Thinking about it now, going to school wasn’t such a great idea, but Ame still believed it would help. In fact, as predicted, her phobia almost disappeared.
What she didn’t foresaw was that Saya would be in her same class.
You could describe the relationship between the two girls as “ stressful “.
Everyone in the class immediately learned that avoiding Notsuki Ame “ was for the best “. Everyone but Saya.
She constantly and unsuccessfully tried to talk with Ame and even to invite her to have lunch together everyday. Well, sometimes Saya managed to get a yes.
‹ Come on! The rooftop is empty, so let’s go? Pretty pleaseee? ›
‹ Aaaah don’t you ever get tired of this shit? Let’s go.. ›
‹ Teehee! ›
‹ .. Stupid. ›
At the beginning, during this talk, the two were stared on by the students still in class, but their interest gradually faded and the scene was labeled as normal.
At any rate, it wasn’t such a thing that was troubling Ame. She was trying to find a part-time work that wouldn’t hinder her studies; she knew that probably the next year she would’ve to move from the orphanage. Not that she disliked the idea.
‹ Then, do you want to stop to Fee Lied after school? ›
‹ What’s with you all of a sudden? ›
‹ Weelll.. you look a little worn out, so I thought of making you relax a bit ›
“ I guess I need a pause “
With that in mind, after school the two girls went to the shop, but when they were about to order..
‹ Selene-chan, I know your taking orders, but after you’ve finished, could you put outside the “ applications open “ sign? ›
‹ Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, dear costumers. ›
‹ It’s nothing. By the way, can high schoolers work here? ›
‹ Oh, you’re interested? If so, wait until the shop is closed, I’ll let you talk to the manager ›
At the end of the day, Ame managed to get employed; since she wasn’t part of any club, after school, from the next day onwards, she had to go directly to Fee Lied and work for four (rarely three) hours, thus she would normally be at the orphanage around 8 pm. With the curfew at 11 pm, she had five hours to study and have some fun.
The fact that Ame wanted to work part-time surprised Saya, at the same time she understood why Ame looked exhausted and was relieved to know she “ helped “ her classmate. I guess “ curiosity killed the cat “ could portray what happened between the time of Ame asking to work in the shop and her being hired.
It wasn’t that much of a fight, certainly, but it was an unpleasant topic for Ame
‹ Why were you searching for work, Ame-san? ›
‹ No reason. ›
‹ Why sooo colddd? If I didn’t ask you to come, you wouldn’t have found this part-time job; shouldn’t you be a little grateful? ›
‹ Fine. It’s because I need money. ›
‹ Ehehe Ame-san likes to act tough but I bet you like cute little things ehehee ›
“ Why? “ Even now, Ame couldn’t understand why she couldn’t have just said something like “ yeah, you’re right “ as a response
‹ No. Next year I’m going to rent an apartment, so I wanted to begin saving some money now ›
‹ Oh meanie, so you want to leave your parents all alone? ›
‹ I have no parents, I need an apartment because from next year I can no longer live in the orphanage ›
‹ ..! I.. I’m sorry I said such things.. ›
The awkward silence among the girls continued until Saya had to leave.
At home, she couldn’t get out of her mind what happened that day; Saya did not know anything about Ame, yet her reaction to her words said a lot. It wasn’t what she carelessly said that caused her to grieve, it was Ame’s eyes that, differently from her calm and collected aptitude, were barely able to restrain her tears.
“ I.. I said those things.. even though all her acting tough, she’s still a girl.. she must long for a family.. I.. I will try harder to become her friend! I will be by her side from now! I am even going to become her family! “
And so this events leaded to such a thought.
In reality what almost cracked Ame was that the conversation reminded her of Eichirou. It’s true that she couldn’t stay in the orphanage for much longer, but her real motive was to never ever meet that man again. In the past two years she did not try to accept what happened, she spent all her time trying to erase it.
And everything was going alright, until that day during Golden Week.
Saya pushed Fee Lied’s door open. Like always a little ringing bell announced the new costumer, but no one welcomed her. Why? Because everyone’s gaze was fixed on Ame
‹ Heeeeyy.. why don’t you come with us, cutie? ›
‹ Yeah, let’s go have fuuun! Just the five of us ›
It wasn’t strange to have males in the shop, not even that they tried to hit on the waitresses and the other costumers. What was strange was that a waitress was shivering just because said “ playboys “ grabbed her hand.
‹ LEAVE HER ALONE! ›
While shouting those words, Saya instinctively took Ame away, fleeing to the shop’s back alley. Saya observed the terrified look on her friend’s face. It wasn’t anymore the unreadable cold face, it clearly showed Ame’s emotions; lightless teary eyes, almost-white skin and a gasping mouth.
Saya immediately hugged her, and then she began stroking Ame’s head
‹ It’s okay.. it’s okay.. it’s over now.. I’m here for you. ›
Ame felt reassured and hugged back her classmate
“ Maybe.. I should give her a chance.. “
She slowly let her head slide on Saya’s shoulder and with her typical face back, at that instant the only remaining abnormality was her soundless cry.
Later Ame heard from the manager that those five boys were kicked out by everyone in the shop; not that she cared.
After the Golden Week, Ame’s class received quite a shock: every time Saya approached Ame, she strangely got a response (‹ Go away › , ‹ Mind your own business › , etc.) with a slightly increase of positive answers when talking about eating together. Today was no exception, the two were having lunch on the rooftop, Ame with a homemade bento and Saya with something bought in the cafeteria.
‹ Could I have a moment please? ›
A voice from behind the two girls interrupted their talk
‹ Ehm.. who are you? ›
As Saya asked that, Ame began remembering who the tall brown-haired girl was
‹ Ah. Fukuhara-senpai. What brings you here? ›
‹ E-eh?! The student council president? Di-did you do something bad, Ame-chan? ›
As Ame thought “ You seriously didn’t have even a moment’s hesitation in accusing me? “ the president swiftly replied in her stead
‹ No, she didn’t. We’re here to ask her to join the student council ›
Ame paused for a moment there.. “ We? ”
‹ Whaaaat? Ame-chan in the student council? ..It’s somewhat hard to imagine ›
‹ Fukuhara-senpai, I see only the three of us here? ›
From behind Airi came out a boy, as tall as her but with black seaweed-like hair
‹ I am the vice-president, second year Zutsumi Kagerou ›
Such entrance surprised both Ame and Saya but while the first’s eyes widened open (at most), the second almost fell from the bench
‹ ..Hello, Zutsumi-senpai. Fukuhara-senpai, about joining the student council, I’m sorry but I’ll have to refuse ›
‹ Could I know why? ›
‹ I’m currently working part-time to be able to rent a near apartment next year, so I already return.. “home” around 8 pm; as such I am not able to join you ›
‹ Mmmh.. I see. That’s a problem, we are in need of a second secretary. Ah! I have an idea: since it doesn’t remain much before summer holidays, why don’t you think about joining after moving in the apartment? I’ll come to get an answer after the holidays then. See you, Ame-chan and.. ? ›
Airi stared at Saya until she realized that she forgot to introduce herself
‹ S-sorry, senpais; I’m Rurihana Saya, Ame’s classmate and best friend! ›
‹ Who said that we were even friends? Don’t go assuming things on your own, please ›
‹ Ame-chaaan, meanieeee ›
Seeing such a scene, Airi laughed a little and then began walking towards the rooftop’s exit with Kagerou
‹ Ahahah, You two are funny! Anyway, goodbye Ame-chan and Saya-chan ›
‹ Goodbye, senpais ›
‹ ’Bye ›
Even if Ame did forget to think about Airi’s request after a few days, she did think about accepting. After moving closer to school, she could ask to change her work shifts, and with the money she was saving up, she wouldn’t even need to work everyday.
Time passed and now, Ame and Saya’s holiday in the nearby village began.