Chapter Two: Risako, Master Tutor
While Risako laughed good-naturedly, Senta looked as though his pride had been completely decimated, Yuuji grimaced in a bewildered disgust, and Hiraku countenance appeared dumbfounded, Junpei found it in himself to cough out a nervous chuckle and say, "I'm sorry, Fukui-san…if you could just excuse us for a moment…"
Risako frowned now. "Oh, is something the matter?" she asked, particularly glancing over at Senta. "Your friend Minami-san looks kind of pale…maybe you should take him to see the school nurse."
"The…humiliation…" Senta stammered, clutching onto his chest and trying to keep his balance.
"Um…I'm sure he'll be fine," Junpei answered with a wince, half-convinced himself. "We just need to have a brief conference…"
With that, the four boys took a few steps back and formed a huddle so they could privately discuss Hiraku's newest tutor. As soon as they were in their small circle, Senta exclaimed, "How can that idiot girl have scored so high? This really is the worst day of my life!"
"I guess you were right, Senta-kun, in that it really was a fluke," Yuuji muttered scathingly, glaring over at the oblivious Risako who stood patiently waiting for them to return to her.
"More like some sort of practical joke of fate," Senta muttered in despair. "This is so embarrassing…"
Hiraku let out a sharp snicker. "Yeah, it is pretty embarrassing that some idiot girl beat you on the midterms."
Senta scowled and shot him a glare. "She didn't beat me. She tied me. You're all the idiots she somehow managed to beat."
"Wouldn't that mean the whole school was a bunch of idiots, then?" Yuuji pointed out with a scoff.
"Apparently, if that idiot girl was able to outscore them," Senta remarked bitterly.
"Now, now, guys," Junpei interjected. "You really shouldn't keep calling her that. She seems like a perfectly nice girl to me. You're all being rude."
"Rude? I'm not being rude to her!" Senta insisted before frowning worriedly. "Do you think I'm being rude to her?"
"Well, you have been slightly patronizing," Junpei admitted.
"But I've never been rude to a girl before!" Senta lamented before he glowered. "But she's so…so…irritating to me! How am I supposed to do the honorable thing and treat the girl kindly – as any gentleman would – when I can absolutely not stand her?"
"Oh, come on – you're just jealous that she tied you," Hiraku said bluntly. "That's the only reason why you can't stand her."
"Well, how am I supposed to feel when that idiot girl acts as though we're academic equals?" Senta questioned. "And how could I ever be jealous of someone as stupid as her?!"
Junpei let out a sigh. "I really think you should all stop calling her stupid…she has to be bright if she did so well on the midterms."
"We've already determined that was a fluke, Jun-kun!" Senta retaliated vehemently.
"I don't see why you always have to make everything about you for, anyway, Senta," Hiraku commented now. "I'm the one she's tutoring." Hiraku then suddenly grinned, his eyes lighting up with a devious idea. "Hey, hold on a second! This is totally great! All this time I had been thinking I was going to get some nerdy guy as my tutor, and instead I get some cute, spaced-out girl! I'm sure with a little flirtatious charm, I could convince our dear, stupid Risa-chan to do all my work for me – and maybe give me something a little extra, as well!"
As Hiraku began snickering lecherously, Senta scowled indignantly. "You mean manipulate the situation to meet your own filthy and pathetic needs, you disgusting pervert!"
"Hey, don't be bitter now, Senta, just because she didn't want you," Hiraku remarked with a chortle, which caused Senta's face to turn red with anger.
"That has nothing to do with it! What kind of man gets some poor girl to do his homework for him? And then expects her to…to…"
"Expects her to do what?" Hiraku pressed with a sleazy grin and Senta's cheeks reddened, this time in embarrassment.
"You know what I'm talking about!" Senta snapped.
"Then why don't you just say it?" Hiraku questioned with a smirk and a snicker.
As Senta looked ready to lunge at the now sniggering Hiraku in both anger and embarrassment, Yuuji scoffed and crossed his arms. "What I don't understand is how you could trust an idiot girl like her with all your school assignments. If her midterm scores are a fluke – which they probably are – then there's no way she's going to be able to actually do all your homework for you without completely screwing it up."
"But if they aren't a fluke, then I'm totally set!" Hiraku concluded with a giddy laugh.
"I'm not sure if this is the best idea, Hiraku," Junpei began with a concerned frown. "Even if you have her do all your work for you and you do well on your homework assignments, you're still not learning anything and you still have to be able to pass your tests on your own. You can't have her take the tests for you."
"Junpei is absolutely right!" Senta agreed. "Slacking off now will only cause you more problems in the future!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Hiraku brushed them off with a wave of his hand. "We'll worry about all that when the time comes for it! Besides, if I have perfect scores on all my homework assignments, it'll kind of end up balancing out my not-so-good test grades and so in the end I should be able to get a passing grade, right?"
"That's not how it works at all!" Senta declared in frustration.
However, Hiraku was already grinning and leaving the circle, making his way giddily over to Risako. "Risa-chan!" he greeted her, quickly swinging his arm around her and pulling her close to him. Risako frowned, a little bit wary of his overly friendly gesture. "So let's get started with this tutoring thing, hey, Risa-chan?"
"Don't you think that since she's your tutor you shouldn't be talking to her so informally?" Senta called out to Hiraku, still clearly seething.
"I don't believe you were part of this conversation, Senta," Hiraku snapped back, shooting him a glare over his shoulder. He then leaned his face close to her, smiled, and said deviously, "Besides, I'm sure Risa-chan doesn't mind – isn't that right, Risa-chan?"
Risako tried her best to smile with his face only inches from hers and answered, "Actually, I guess Fukui-san would probably be more appropriate…"
"Don't tell me you're as much of as a stickler as Senta-kun," Hiraku jested playfully and then added with a lewd smirk, "By the way, has anyone ever told you that you have the most beautiful eyes, Risa-chan?"
"Ugh…" Senta groaned, placing his head in his hand.
"That actually sounds like something you would say, Senta," Junpei noted. "Although, Hiraku does have a way of making it sound a lot less innocent…"
Meanwhile, Risako thought for a moment and replied, "I don't really recall anyone commenting one way or the other about my eyes…why do you ask?"
"Because you do, Risa-chan," Hiraku answered, sly grin widening.
Risako frowned a little bewildered. "Do what?"
"Apparently, she understands compliments about just as well as she understands insults," Yuuji noted wryly and Senta tried his best not to snicker while Junpei shook his head disapprovingly.
In the meantime, Hiraku winced a bit, trying not to lose his patience, and clarified, "You know…have the most beautiful eyes…"
"You really think so?" Risako asked, wrinkling her nose skeptically. "I always thought they were kind of brown and boring!" She let out a laugh in spite of herself before becoming more excited. "Ooh, you know who has really pretty eyes? Takahashi-sempai – you know, the second year student with those really pretty green eyes. I was actually telling her the other day just that! And, come to think of it, Wakahisa-san, you have really nice eyes, too – maybe I just have a thing for green eyes, that's all!" She started laughing again.
"Oh, thanks, Fukui-san," Junpei said with a gracious smile.
"You're welcome, Wakahisa-san," Risako replied and looked back to Hiraku. "I just love green eyes – even blue ones are nice. Both are better than boring brown ones, anyway, but I'm sure you can relate!"
As she started laughing good-naturedly again, the brown-eyed Hiraku glowered in disdain while Yuuji muttered to Junpei and Senta, "Did she just insult him?"
"I think indirectly…" Junpei answered with a frown while Senta could no longer hold his snickers and instead burst out into laughter.
"Shut up, Minami!" Hiraku snarled back at him, but Senta only laughed harder.
"Anyway, about the tutoring," Risako now began, completely oblivious to Hiraku's growing disgust with her. "I decided that we should probably start on math first, since that was your weakest subject on the midterms. So I drew up a set of practice problems you might want to work on…"
As Risako began rummaging through her bag, Hiraku began, "Actually, I was thinking, Risa-chan, that maybe we could work on this after school. You know, just me and you…together."
Despite the lewd tone of his voice and his lascivious grin, Risako seemed oblivious to his implications and said, "Well, I thought you could work on this for the rest of lunch and then after school we could go over it together and then start working on your homework." She then handed him a ditto with some practice problems written on it.
"You mean…you want me to work on this…now…?" Hiraku asked in disbelief and disgust.
"If you don't mind," Risako answered. "I'm so glad, though, that you'll be available after school for us to really start working! I'm sure with a little bit of studying, we'll have your grades up in no time!"
"Great…" Hiraku grumbled sarcastically, but Risako's pep remained unaffected.
"Anyway, I'll see you after school at the library, Ito-san! Bye for now!" She gave a smile and a wave before running off, while Hiraku remained bitterly scowling, Yuuji looked grim, and Senta neared the end of his hysterical bout of laughter.
Only Junpei waved goodbye, calling out, "Goodbye, Fukui-san!"
"Well, that sucked," Hiraku concluded after she was gone and turned back to face his friends. "What the hell was that all about?"
"I guess you better start on your practice problems," Senta began, his lips firmls pressed into a smirk as if to try to hold back his emerging snickers. "Too bad you've got boring, brown eyes and not stunning blue eyes like myself."
Hiraku smiled now and gave a shrug. "Although, I'm pretty sure she said she liked green eyes more, which would make you second best, huh, Senta?"
"That's not true! I'm way better looking that Jun-kun!" Senta declared without thinking and the others frowned. Realizing what he had just said, he blushed, quickly lowered his eyes, and muttered, "Sorry, Jun-kun…"
Junpei gave a polite smile and answered, "It's all right, Senta-kun...I mean, I suppose it is a good thing to be confident in one's appearance…"
"Except when it borderlines on narcissism," Yuuji commented wryly.
"I think he's way over that border, Yuuji," Hiraku remarked with a snicker.
"What was that, Ito?" Senta glared over at Hiraku with contempt.
"Perhaps we should stop distracting Hiraku now and let him get on with his work," Junpei then suggested, cautiously eyeing the irritated Senta and the snidely snickering Hiraku.
"Yeah, right; I'm not doing that now," Hiraku remarked rudely, tossing the paper on the ground, taking a seat on the grass, and beginning to eat again. As he gobbled his food down once more, he explained, "Look, she's clearly stupid, but that just means I've got to be more obvious with her, that's all. Be more forceful about it. Then I'm sure she'll get the hint and then I'll be having her on her hands and knees, begging for more…and begging to do whatever I ask of her."
Senta's eyes flashed with disapproval. "You better not do anything stupid, you disgusting pervert," he warned.
"Relax! Jeez, you're so uptight," Hiraku insisted. "I'm Hiraku Ito – what girl in this school doesn't want to be with me?"
"Maybe the ones with actual taste," Senta grumbled, still eyeing him crossly.
"Senta may be right, Hiraku-kun. If she really isn't interested, you could offend her," Junpei reminded him.
"It'll be fine; besides, she's just some stupid girl, anyway."
"But she's still a girl," Senta reminded him.
"So? And it's not like someone inexperienced like you would know anything about any of this, anyway," Hiraku derided with a sharp chortle.
"I am experienced!" Senta snapped indignantly, although his face burned red. "And I'm being serious! Don't do anything stupid, Ito!"
Hiraku grew annoyed now and questioned heatedly, "I thought you hated her. What the hell do you care what I do to her?"
Senta glared away, a bit of pink still in his cheeks, and answered quietly, "Because there are just some things you don't do to a girl, even idiot girls like her."
"I'm sure Hiraku knows that, right, Hiraku-kun?" Junpei asked, giving another polite smile.
Hiraku rolled his eyes and looked up and away with a scoff. "Yeah, sure, whatever."
And Yuuji glowered, glaring at the ground and grumbled to himself in disgust, "Idiot girl."
Risako glanced at her watch as she sat in the library with some irritation; she had already been waiting there for a half hour for Hiraku and yet he had not shown up. She looked around the otherwise empty library with a yawn, feeling herself grow drowsy as she waited. Her eyelids were beginning to droop as she started falling into a bored sleep when suddenly an unenthusiastic voice came from her left, "Hey."
Her eyes fluttered, suddenly alert, when she turned to see Hiraku standing there, looking more bored and annoyed than she did. "Oh, hi," she said, trying to compose herself. "I was waiting…"
"Yeah, I know; sorry I'm late," Hiraku interrupted with little sincerity, taking a seat next to her. "I forgot I had plans. But I'm pretty popular around here, so I'm usually very busy." He then gave her a grin and asked, "You understand, don't you?"
"I guess so," Risako answered, trying to keep her annoyance to a minimum although she felt fairly unconvinced by this excuse. She forced a smile and said, "Anyway, did you get a chance to work on the practice problems?"
"I was busy."
"Oh…well, I guess we can start on them now together…"
"Actually, I was thinking we could just skip to the homework part. I've got to meet a couple of girls before soccer practice today, and that's in an hour," Hiraku again cut her off.
"Um, well, soccer practice is important, but maybe you could postpone your dates for some other time…I mean, your grades are pretty bad right now…"
Hiraku gave a lecherous grin and leaned close to her. "What? Are you jealous?"
"Not particularly…should I be?"
"I guess not; you're already pretty lucky to even get to spend this much time alone with me. Every girl at this school dreams of having a moment alone with me, if you know what I mean."
"Okay...but – "
"That reminds me…we are pretty alone here, aren't we?" Hiraku continued to press, his lascivious grin widening.
"Well, it was more crowded a half hour ago when school first let out," Risako noted.
"It's a good thing I'm late then; now we don't have to worry about modesty – it's not like anyone will see what we do in here," Hiraku said slyly.
"I don't see why they'd want to," Risako answered with a frown. "I mean, all we're going to be doing is studying."
"But isn't there something else you'd rather be doing with me, Risa-chan?" Hiraku asked with a devious glint in his eyes.
"Not really, especially as we don't have a lot of time considering you won't postpone your dates to work on your studies," Risako said, becoming slightly irritated. "Anyway, about your homework – "
"Ah, so it is jealousy, then."
"Well, if that's really the case, I suppose I can let those dates slide," Hiraku decided, ignoring Risako's bafflement. "Provided that you promise me that you're willing to give me a good time."
"I'm not sure that I can promise that," Risako answered, now with her usual laugh. "It's going to be a lot of hard work, but I'm sure you'll learn a lot."
"And I'm sure I can teach you a lot, too, Risa-chan," Hiraku answered slyly, taking hold of her hand and pulling her close to him.
"Like what?" Risako answered in confusion before letting out a good-natured laugh. "I mean, no offense, but your midterm grades were really bad, Ito-san."
"There's a lot more than schoolwork I could teach you about," Hiraku answered. "I'm very experienced."
"Well, I'm not really interested in learning about sports, if that's what you mean," Risako replied and then frowned uncomfortably. "And…um…why are you holding my hand…exactly?"
"I'm not only experienced in sports, Risa-chan," he continued, inching his face closer to her. "I'm experienced in more adult matters."
"But you don't seem to be very good at anything else…" Risako answered innocently.
Growing aggravated, Hiraku clenched his teeth and said, "Think, Risa-chan. Here we are, all alone, in the library. What could we possibly do together that nobody would have to know about except us two? Something that's passionate and exciting and romantic?"
"Um…study?" Risako offered doubtfully.
"Studying isn't any one of those things!" Hiraku shouted.
"Well, I guess not mathematics, but if you're studying a good book or an interesting historical period," Risako explained with a light laugh. "But, speaking of mathematics, about your math homework – "
"I was actually thinking that you could work on that for me later this evening, Risa-chan," Hiraku then began, his lewd grin returning. "So that we could focus on more enjoyable things right now."
"So…you want to study a different subject then?" Risako asked in perplexity.
"No, Risa-chan – I want to study you," Hiraku answered, his eyes gazing deeply into her baffled ones.
"I'm sorry, Ito-san, but I'm really confused…maybe we should just…"
"What would you do if I kissed you right now?" he asked, his eyes flashing cunningly.
"What?" Risako blurted out, her cheeks flaring red as she hastily tried to yank her hand from his, but to no avail.
"So now you understand," Hiraku said with a chuckle.
"Actually, I don't understand at all!"
"I know it's hard to believe, me, being Hiraku Ito and all, and you, being just some lonely, ordinary schoolgirl," Hiraku continued. "But I am giving you a once in a lifetime opportunity. So what do you say?"
"But we hardly even know each other…Ito-san…" Risako began nervously. Hiraku then placed his other hand on her shoulder, which caused the red in her face to brighten as she cried out frantically, "Just hold on a second here!"
"Come on, Risa-chan – I told you there's no need for modesty. Just give in to your emotions," Hiraku insisted and then laughed lecherously. "You know you want to."
"I really think we should be working on your math homework…" Risako insisted desperately, glancing over at her books already laid out on the table, but Hiraku gave her should and hand a yank so she would face him again.
"We can just forget about the homework for now and you can work on it later for me. Right now, we should just follow our more primal desires."
"But I really don't have a desire to – "
"And I'm sure you've always wondered what it would be like to be the girlfriend of one of the members of the Lovely Boys Club," Hiraku remarked slyly. "You do want to be my girlfriend, now, don't you, Risa-chan?"
"Um…not particularly…" she answered before adding more apologetically, "I'm sorry, Ito-san, but I'm really just not interested in you in that way."
"What do you mean not interested?" he snarled back, becoming angry.
"I mean, I think you're a nice-looking guy, and I know you're really popular, but – "
"But, what? What the hell is wrong with you, anyway?" he snapped furiously, causing Risako to flinch nervously.
"You're just not my type, that's all," she answered with a strained laugh. "Really, it isn't a big deal…"
"Whatever," he grumbled, giving her a shove back as he released her. "I've got to go."
"But…we didn't even…"
"You can just do it for me," he said, standing up brusquely. "You are useful enough that you can do something as easy as that, can you?"
Risako scowled a bit now. "I'm not doing your homework for you. You're supposed to do it yourself."
"Aren't we all self-righteous? You really think your better than me?" he questioned vindictively. "You're nothing compared to me; you're just some stupid girl – some nobody."
"I'm only trying to help," Risako insisted. "And I really didn't mean to insult you before…"
"Just forget it," Hiraku retorted sharply, giving her a curt wave as he began walking away.
"But Miss Nagai said I was supposed to tutor you!" Risako called out desperately, standing up herself.
Hiraku stopped and clenched his teeth at the sound of his homeroom teacher's name. "Fine…we'll just meet tomorrow then."
Risako frowned. "Tomorrow…? Well, I guess we can meet before school tomorrow to go over your homework…"
"Sure, fine, whatever," he answered unenthusiastically. "How about we both do the homework tonight and then we can compare what you did with what I did tomorrow?"
Some of Risako's spirit returned to her as she smiled. "Okay, then. I'll meet you tomorrow morning an hour before school starts in the back of the schoolyard. It's supposed to be a nice day, so we can work outside."
"Yeah, see you tomorrow then."
"See you, Ito-san!" she called out giving a wave as he left as quickly as he had come. As he disappeared from sight, she then lowered her hand, frowned, and sighed.
The next morning, Risako stood outside in the back of the empty schoolyard, waiting for Hiraku to arrive and holding the work she had done the night before in her hands. She yawned, feeling sleepy, and glanced at her watch. Already twenty minutes had passed and yet there was no sign of Hiraku. "Well, there's still time," she told herself, putting on an optimistic smile and standing up straight. "I'm sure he'll show up soon."
However, as time passed and she soon saw students arriving, most laughing and chatting with one another, as the beginning of the newest school day neared. Risako frowned, her eyes tearing up in both her embarrassment and disappointment as reality at last sunk in. "He's not coming…is he?"
The Lovely Boys Club sat outside for lunch as they had the day before, all eyes set on them. However, this time the conversation was set squarely on Hiraku, as the other three boys anxiously waited for him to tell of his time with his new tutor.
"Nothing happened," Hiraku answered as he chewed on his food. "She's just a total moron."
"You shouldn't say that, now," Junpei said.
"But she is," Hiraku insisted. "Apparently I'm not her type."
Senta let out an incredulous laugh. "She actually said that to you?"
"More or less," Hiraku said with a shrug. "But what the hell do I care? I've got plenty of girls falling all over themselves for me. Besides, she's a complete idiot, anyway. It's so easy to just walk all over her – I've already got her wrapped around my finger."
"How so?" Yuuji asked, only mildly interested.
"Well, I've already got her to do my math homework for me; I've just got to find her before math class and get it from her," Hiraku answered lackadaisically.
"She actually did your math homework for you?" Senta questioned.
"Well, she doesn't know she did it for me yet," Hiraku said, cracking a smirk. "But I just told her to do it and that we'd compare notes today. Like I said, she's completely brain dead, so I'll have no problem manipulating her into giving her work to me."
As Hiraku started laughing, the sound of footsteps marching through the grass came to the four boys' ears and Hiraku's laughter slowly died as he looked up to see a seething Risako standing over them. He grinned and stood up, greeting her, "Risa-chan!"
"You blew me off," she said coldly, glaring at him with little mercy.
"Um, she looks kind of angry, Hiraku-kun," Junpei spoke up now. "Maybe you should just back off…"
"You really think an idiot girl like that could be angry?" Yuuji muttered sardonically.
Hiraku, meanwhile, gave a shrug. "Ah, sorry about this morning, Risa-chan, but like I said, I'm always pretty busy."
"You're not the only person who's pretty busy, Ito-san," Risako rebutted, scowl worsening.
"Don't be so angry, Risa-chan," Hiraku insisted, playfully putting his arm around her shoulders, much to Risako's annoyance. "Now, did you work on the math homework for me?"
"Yes," she answered flatly. "Did you?"
"I'm sorry, Risa-chan, but I was so busy last night; I'm sure you understand, though, right? You're such a sweet girl, after all. So maybe you could just let me borrow what you worked on – just this once? Please, Risa-chan?"
"Why can't we work on it now together? You have an hour for lunch, don't you?" Risako suggested, although her glower remained. "Or are you just too busy avoiding your responsibilities again?"
"I think she might actually be insulting him," Senta noted in surprise and Yuuji and Junpei nodded, equally surprised.
"Well, I'm eating, obviously," Hiraku then explained with a laugh. "And I'm sure there are other things you'd rather be doing, too, especially as you spent so much time helping me out already."
"So you think that, after standing me up, I'm going to let you try to pass off my work as your own?" Risako questioned icily.
Hiraku gave a sharp chuckle and a vindictive smile as he released her. "So I guess you're not as stupid as you look."
"Well, I guess you're just about as stupid as you look," she retorted back.
"Okay, that was definitely an insult," Senta concluded and Yuuji and Junpei frowned with worry.
"Will you stop being such a pain and just give me the homework?" Hiraku snapped.
"I'm not giving you anything," Risako said firmly. "Do your own homework."
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Hiraku shouted, grabbing hold of her book bag. "Just give it to me!"
"Let go!" Risako exclaimed, holding onto her bag tightly as he tried to pull it from her while the rest of the students in the schoolyard looked on in shock and bafflement.
"Quit it, Hiraku," Junpei ordered, standing up himself. "Everyone's watching."
Hiraku grimaced, noticing all the eyes on him, and begrudgingly released it with a hard push. Risako stumbled back a bit, but managed to her balance as she clung to her bag protectively. "What? You just like pissing me off, is that it?" Hiraku derided furiously. "Or are you just jealous of us because you really are some nobody? Like any of us would ever even give you the time of day, anyway, if I wasn't forced to have you as my tutor. All you are is some idiot girl, anyway."
The crowd began snickering at her and Risako felt her eyes begin to well up with her tears, but she forced herself not to cry. Instead, her indignation remained stalwart as she countered, "Me, the idiot girl? That's a riot when you're the one who's so stupid he can't even pass his midterms!"
"So you really do think you're better than me then? Really? Now that's the riot!"
As Hiraku burst into cruel chuckles and the crowd followed suit, Risako grew more furious. "Yes, you're right – I do think I'm better than you. You think just because you're popular and good-looking that I'm going to just do anything you want me to do? I was trying to help you out, but apparently you're too lazy or too afraid to actually even put in any effort with your schoolwork whatsoever. Except for Wakahisa-san, all of you have been nothing but mean and condescending – don't think I haven't noticed all your snide comments! I can't imagine why any girl would want to hang out with boys who are nothing more than spoiled, selfish brats!"
"Excuse me?" Senta spoke up, standing and growing indignant himself. "Who do you think you are, anyway?"
"If Hiraku had been smart, he would have chosen Senta-kun to be his tutor, instead of some idiot girl like you," Yuuji added frigidly, standing up himself.
"Now, guys..." Junpei spoke pleadingly, glancing over at the visibly upset Risako.
"No, Junpei," Senta interrupted. "I consider myself a gentleman, but I won't allow myself to be insulted by some idiot girl. She should feel honored and privileged that we've been charitable enough to allow her to stay in our company. The girls of this school are like beautiful and delicate roses – but, unlike them, she's nothing more than a common weed. How else can you explain such a rude girl like her?"
As the crowd's snickers grew louder, Risako mustered up the rest of her pride and courage. "How am I rude? Just because I'm not interested in any of you? You know, not every girl you meet is going to fall head over heels for you all just because you happen to be handsome and charming, so you all better get used of it now!" Her face was beat red and her tears finally spilled from her eyes, her cheeks wet and burning hot with her embarrassment and anger. She then lowered her head, her bangs covering her eyes, and said more cuttingly, "What kind of gentlemen would ever call some girl an idiot or thinks that if he sleeps with her, that she'll do his homework for him? And then you all act like there's something wrong with me. You're the ones who are all like weeds."
With that, she quickly fled, running off as her tears trickled down and flung into the air as she sped away admist the sound of derisive snickers and giggles. Hiraku gave a snort as she left and the laughter faded off, turning to the others and remarking bitterly, "Good riddance."
"What a stupid girl," Yuuji agreed, his glare severe and unforgiving as he sat back down on the grass.
"All of you should be ashamed of yourselves," Junpei scolded. "How could you treat her like that?"
"Who cares?" Hiraku remarked with a shrug, taking a seat on the grass again.
"You embarrassed her in front of everyone," Junpei continued to reprimand as he sat down.
Hiraku's face flinched a bit with guilt, but he muttered, "It wasn't my fault…she brought it on herself."
"It doesn't matter, anyway," Yuuji added. "Senta-kun can tutor Hiraku now, right, Senta-kun?" Yuuji frowned when Senta did not answer and looked up, repeating, "Senta-kun…?"
Senta had remained standing, still staring at where Risako had been standing in a stunned daze. His expression was somber and remorseful as he said quietly, "That girl…she was crying. I've never made a girl cry like that before…I've never made anyone cry like that before." He then turned to the other three raising a fist and declared resolutely, "We must apologize to her at once!"
"Hold on a second!" Hiraku exclaimed. "You can do what you want, but I'm not apologizing to anyone, especially an idiot girl like her!"
"Senta is right," Junpei agreed. "We should all apologize as soon as possible."
"But I didn't do anything wrong!" Hiraku insisted. "She was the one who was being a pain about everything."
"Because she didn't want to do your homework for a pathetic idiot like you and actually wanted to help you learn something?" Senta snapped.
"She really was trying to help you, Hiraku-kun," Junpei pointed out more kindly. "I know you really don't like doing your schoolwork, but you can't really blame her if she didn't want to do it for you."
Hiraku let out a frustrated sigh. "Fine…I'll apologize to the stupid girl for embarrassing her or whatever."
"Yuu-kun?" Senta then asked and put on a charming smile. "I know you don't often apologize to girls, but I'd really appreciate it this time. Please?"
Yuuji blushed slightly and glanced down at the grass. "I suppose if you really want me to, Senta-kun…"
"I knew I could count on you, Yuu-kun," Senta said, smiling more genuinely now.
And Hiraku let out another sigh and muttered, "Let's just get this over with."
Risako walked in the back of the schoolyard, thankful to be away from the crowd of snickering students as well as away from the Lovely Boys Club. She wiped the last of her tears from her eyes and cheeks with her sleeve as she walked alongside the school building, the rest of the area empty as most students were eating their lunch in the main field. "Stupid boys," she mumbled to herself. "Like anyone would ever be interested in being friends with a rotten group of guys like them."
She stopped abruptly with a gasp, spotting a familiar young male student around the corner of the building, standing alone on the grass. Her cheeks flushed a rosy pink as her eyes widened with both surprise and a sudden shyness. She leaned closely to the building to keep the student from seeing him and coyly peered out from behind the wall to watch him as he stood, admiring the student from afar. He was a plain-looking young man, with very short and spiky brown hair, a lanky physique, and light brown eyes. His face was unassuming and ordinary, nothing about it being overly attractive or overly unattractive; he appeared wholly run-of-the mill, and yet Risako watched him with a giddy excitement, a slow smiling forming on her face.
"Fukui-san," the familiar voice came from behind her and she let out a shrill gasp before spinning around in a panic to see the four boys of the Lovely Boys Club standing humbly behind her. Senta stood in front and quickly bowed when she turned, saying, "On behalf of my friends, I would like to apologize for our – "
"Shh!" Risako whispered frantically, her cheeks reddening.
Senta grew annoyed and raised his head a bit. "I'm trying to apologize…"
"Will you be quiet?" she interrupted. "He'll hear you!"
"He'll…?" Senta asked in bafflement as the four boys exchanges looks of puzzlement.
Realizing her mistake, Risako blushed further and hastily waved her hands in front of her, insisting, "No, I mean, it's nothing really! Just wait a second!"
However, all four walked past her and crept to the end of the wall, peeking out to see the male student still standing obliviously around the corner. "Hey, it is a guy," Hiraku remarked in disbelief.
"He seems kind of boring, if you ask me," Yuuji noted.
"I think his name is Eiya Nishimura," Hiraku clarified. "He's on the soccer and basketball team with me; he's only an average player."
Junpei nodded. "He's in Class 1-2 with me. I've never really talked much to him, but he always seemed like a nice enough guy."
"But why would Fukui-san be staring at him for unless…" Senta began, trailing off as a sudden revelation popped into all four of their heads. The four then took a step back and turned to face the thoroughly mortified Risako, whole body a bright shade of crimson, as Senta asked, "You mean to say…the reason why you weren't interested in any of us is because…you have a crush on Nishimura-san?"
"No…I mean…I…well…" Risako stammered. "This is really none of your business!"
"You can't seriously think that guy's better-looking than any of us," Hiraku interjected. "I mean, he looks so boring, Risa-chan! You can totally do better than that!'
"He's not boring!" Risako exclaimed with some offense. "He's perfectly fine-looking!"
"So you do like him then," Hiraku said with a playful laugh, which caused Risako's face to redden again and her eyes to flash with panic. "And here I had thought you had a thing for guys with green eyes. I guess I do stand a chance then, eh, Risa-chan?"
"No, no, it's nothing like that!" Risako again tried to insist, but none of the boys seemed very convinced. She frowned and sighed, lowering her head shamefully. "All right…if you promise not to tell anyone…I guess I do kind of like him. I've sort of had a crush on him since my second year of junior high." She then raised her head and said more sternly, "But you can't tell anyone!"
"We won't, we won't," Junpei assured her.
"But that's such a long time to like a guy for," Senta pointed out. "Haven't you ever tried talking to him about it before?"
"Well, I do talk to him from time to time, but…"
"You're too much of a coward to admit anything to him," Yuuji finished for her with little sympathy.
Risako frowned, but admitted, "I guess you're right; I guess I am kind of a coward."
"Cheer up, Fukui-san," Senta then replied with a warm smile. "There are plenty of more attractive young men to be interested in than boring Nishimura-san. Like ourselves, for instance. So why worry yourself over someone like him for?"
"Because I don't like you guys; I like Nishimura-san," Risako told him emphatically causing Senta to scowl a bit with some envy.
"Well, he doesn't seem that great to me," Senta commented, crossing his arms stubbornly. "Nothing extraordinary, anyway. And certainly nothing compared to me!"
"Now you can't really help who you like, Senta-kun," Junpei said, but then frowned himself. "Although, I'm sorry, Fukui-san. You must have been very disappointed when you heard about what happened two weeks ago."
Risako's eyes fluttered a bit in confusion. "Two weeks ago…?"
"You didn't hear?" Junpei began. "Well, Nishimura-san – "
"Eiya-kun!" a sweet voice called out, interrupting Junpei, and all five turned to see a cute young girl with barrettes in her short blond hair run up to Eiya with a giggle and a smile. Eiya smiled back as she approached him, skipping up and wrapping her arms around him as he did hers as the two kissed one another.
Risako eyes widened in horror as she watched the two kissing, the tears returning to her gaze. "That…can't be…Nishimura-san…" she then stammered in disbelief, feeling her heart begin to break.