There was more than one world, or even one universe. Every decision we made, make, and will make tended to branch out into different paths. A multiverse of infinite possibilities lay before us, all occurring side-by-side.

That was more or less the gist of what the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics by Everett-Wheeler was all about... or at least according to many a Science Fiction author, it was.

However, the only thing these (mistaken) writers did was produce factually inaccurate sci-fi novels, because the universe didn't really split between a you that had to repeat a school year because you missed that one question during a test and a you that passed all your exams by the skin of your teeth.

The multiverse theory didn't exactly work like that, since it was more applicable to small quantum objects like atoms and photons instead of large, moist, and sloppy macroscopic creatures like human beings who were governed more by non-quantum processes such as chemicals released by their own neurotransmitters than by anything in the quantum level.

Unless tiny quantum events could create a domino effect that could, at best, theoretically affect non-quantum systems... like, say, strapping yourself to a Quantum Suicide Machine wherein you'd be shot if an atom that had a fifty percent chance to decay were to decay... the multiverse was limited to quantum physics only.

In short, the Many-Worlds Interpretation wasn't related to humans doing one thing or another at all. Not that Tomoyuki Yamamoto, a second year high school boy, had any idea (or cared) what multiple planes of existence were, much less the angles wherein photons were emitted, the time when an atom decayed, or what the hell a wave function was.

It was all Greek to him. However, little did the teenager know that even he, who didn't exactly have the best grades in Science, would soon have a rough idea of what that quantum mechanics theory entailed after that fateful Wednesday was through.


Keit-AI! Tomoyuki x Seiko

An Anime-Inspired Original Story from 4chan's /a/ Board by Abdiel

Original Idea by Hataki

At last, Keit-AI! has become a reality.

Disclaimer: This work may reference copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is believed that this constitutes as fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. All copyrighted material referred to in this work belongs to their respective owners. All rights reserved.


Chapter 1: The Amazon Queen and the Cherry Boy


At Section 2B of Maehara High School, on a Wednesday...

"Why would you want to think about killing a cat? And why are you killing the poor thing with a death trap straight out of a James Bond movie anyway? I thought Bond villains loved cats," Tomoyuki ranted at his short-haired, bespectacled classmate as he scratched the back of his head.

With a smile and a wide-eyed look more fitting of a mad scientist, Miku Machida waved her pointer finger and clucked her tongue on the roof of her mouth.

"No, no, Yamamoto-kun. Let me explain again. It's called Schrodinger's Cat, and it's a thought experiment that works like this: Erwin Schrodinger setup a scenario wherein a cat is sealed inside a box with a Geiger Counter inside it. If the radioactive substance decays and the Geiger Counter detects it, a device smashes a vial of poison that instantly kills the cat."

Tomoyuki was about to say something, but his classmate... the class representative at that... wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise.

"However, because there's only a fifty percent chance that the substance would decay every second, we can't be sure that the cat is alive or dead after an hour unless the box is opened and we see it for ourselves. The cat is therefore both alive and dead at the same time. This cloud of potentiality represents what Schrodinger's cat is all about."

"I really don't get it, Machida. So we're not sure if the cat is alive or dead? That doesn't mean it's both at the same time! We're just not sure if it is or it isn't. Just because you're uncertain doesn't mean the cat is in limbo between life and death or something," Tomoyuki reasoned as he shrugged.

"If you knew even a smidgen about quantum physics, you'd understand exactly why the cat is both dead and alive at the same time while the box is unopened!"

"Uh, yeah. Sure. As if I should. Also, I don't think that topic will be covered by any of our tests or quizzes any time soon," noted Tomoyuki as he put his hands inside his pants' pockets.

"Of course it isn't, silly." Miku smirked. "I'm using Schrodinger's Cat as a motif for the all-original doujinshi story I'm writing for the next Comiket! It stars a protagonist named Schrodinger and his girlish, cross-dressing underage lover, Copenhagen, as they..."

And that was around the point Tomoyuki stopped paying attention to what the Class Rep was saying. Although he wasn't one of those people who were intolerant of the eccentric behavior of otaku or, in Miku's case, fujoshi (literally "rotten girl"), his "live and let live" policy didn't extend to actually hearing out their ramblings that didn't even resemble Japanese speech.

To those who have no idea what fujoshi were, consider yourselves lucky. As far as Tomoyuki knew, it somehow had something to do with pornographic comics about homosexual pretty boys or something. As clueless as he was about this Schrodinger fellow, he had even less of a clue why a girl would proudly call herself a rotten girl.

He had other, more pressing matters to worry about. Despite his pride as a Japanese male, he swallowed it enough to defy tradition and actually write a love letter to the woman that he liked. It took him three days and three nights to put on paper the contents of his heart. His gaze then moved across the room in search for the apple of his eye.

"...So that's why Schrodinger's relationship with Coppenhagen was at a state of existence and nonexistence as well! I can't wait for the artist I'm collaborating with to do the designs for those two! Isn't it exciting, Yamamoto-kun?"

He groaned. Miku was still talking about her self-published, gay-themed comic. "Uh, Machida, could you...?"

"Nice to see you two getting along famously," a classmate of Tomoyuki's who was a head taller than him towered over the pair, much to Yamamoto's relief. The tightness of the delinquent-looking young man's grip on his shoulder and sharp glare were uncalled for, though. He could take a hint.

As soon as Tomoyuki's "best friend", the bleach-blond Kazuhito Sugata arrived, Miku fell silent and put away her notebook containing (rather terrible) doodles and notes about her latest doujinshi project for the upcoming Comiket (Comic Market) convention inside her desk. "G-Good morning, Sugata-kun."

"Good morning, Class Rep! You look lovely today," said Kazuhito.

"Hey, Sugata. Are you still fending off the hordes of girls that are after you with a stick?" joked Tomoyuki.

"Er, that's flattering, Cherry... Uh, I mean, Yamamoto," stumbled Kazuhito. "Between you and me, though, I just had one ex from Hiroshima. That's about it. Don't believe everything you hear."

Tomoyuki sighed as he heard Kazuhito almost call him by his infamous in-campus nickname, "Cherry Boy", which was just Japanese slang for virgin.

Granted, he doubted that all of the boys in his high school had lost their virginity already, but he was called as such, he supposed, because... and it pained him to self-evaluate like this... he didn't know how to deal with women romantically. Or at all.

Sure, he could talk to them, joke with them, and have a great time with them. There were many of them who think he was nice. But that was about it. It never went beyond that.

In other words, among all the virgins in his school, he was the poster child for them all... the virgin among virgins who would never get any as long as he lived. He didn't even want to think about it, but that was his situation in a nutshell.

It certainly didn't help that several of his classmates past and present had kept tabs on how many rejections and "Let's just be friends," speeches he'd received from women since he became a high school student.

He was a legend on campus for all the wrong reasons. Where did it all start anyway? What made him King of the Virgins? Why him? What made him so special? Was it because he had so many female friends, and no actual girlfriends to speak of?

Was it because he fell for any pretty woman that looked his way, gave him a modicum of respect, or talked to him nicely? Wasn't there a term for that? The "Nice Clerk Syndrome", Machida called it. He himself called it a one-way ticket to the Friend Zone.

The Nice Clerk Syndrome happened whenever a girl treated a guy nicely while the guy misconstrued such acts as genuine affection, even though the girl was merely acting that way for the sake of being polite. He was like a customer mistaking the forced niceness of a clerk to all customers as actual fondness.

Actually, the "Cherry Boy" thing must have all started during the time when he got a text message from a classmate confessing to him, which made him excited enough to tell the entire class about it, only to find out that the girl had accidentally sent her message to his number and she was actually confessing to someone else.

That was when people started noticing his lack of a love life and awkwardness around the opposite sex, which prompted some of his meaner classmates to etch "Cherry Boy" unto his desk and write "Please Pop My Cherry" in the male bathroom stalls along with his cell phone number (that he had to change several times over during that school year).

He was so unlucky in love that he was the kind of guy who'd get "friendzoned" by his own imaginary girlfriend. Or she'd cheat on him. With his imaginary best friend.

Man, he hated answering his own questions.

"...Anyway," Kazuhito continued while clearing his throat, "What were you doing there, Class Rep? Homework? Oh, you dropped something..."

A stray piece of paper bearing Machida's outline for her self-published homosexual sci-fi comic had slipped out of the notebook she was doodling on earlier, which made Sugata pick it up for her.

"AH! No, that's for a friend!" a red-faced Machida quickly grabbed and crumpled the page from her precious outline. She went misty-eyed as she threw the paper ball into the nearby wastebasket. It hit nothing but air as it landed inside the receptacle from a faraway distance. Several of their classmates applauded her for her "performance".

"Our own Class Rep for three points!"

"Class reps nowadays can do anything, from academics to sports!"

Kazuhito looked at Tomoyuki and nudged him in the ribs. The taller boy's darting eyes were in askance for an explanation regarding what just happened (an explanation that Yamamoto obviously couldn't provide).

'What do you want me to say, Sugata? She had to throw away that trashy page she'd been working on so hard because she doesn't want to let out that she's one of those fangirls who are into fictional boy-on-boy action? Why do you care, anyway?' Tomoyuki thought as hard as he could in the hopes that Kazuhito would take a hint.

Yamamoto considered that maybe after Miku witnessed what had happened to him and the "Cherry Boy" thing, she decided that she would rather not go through the same nonsense by being thought of as the female version of the socially inept "otaku".

She didn't want to be called a... what was that term again? Oh, right. "Mojo". She didn't want to be called a mojo, which was Japanese slang for a dork of a girl with no friends and no prospects in getting her own boyfriend because of her social ineptitude.

Miku had a pristine reputation to maintain, after all, even if it was being the beloved Class Representative of Section 2B. If she were a superhero, "Rotten Girl" would be her secret identity, and "Class Rep" would be her equivalent of Superman's "Clark Kent" disguise.

Heck, speaking of which, he also had a crush on Machida once, before he realized she was completely "rotten" to the core, wherein no three-dimensional boy would ever measure up to the standards exhibited by the two-dimensional fictional characters she swooned over.

She also added insult to injury when he once complained in front of her how women never want to pick the nice guy over the bad boys. With a smirk and a raised eyebrow, she asked him, "So you were being nice to women you're attracted to because you want to score with them? You think being nice entitles you to having a girlfriend even though you're unfunny, uninteresting, and plain-looking?"

Ouch.

And that was why he never complained about being a nice guy that always finished last ever again, or at least he never did so in front of Section 2B's guileless Class Representative.

"Back in the roof deck of the school, were you the one who...?" Kazuhito blurted out, which made Miku fidget and turn bright red, as though she were getting feverish.

"THAT WAS YOU UP THERE?" Miku screeched instead of asked.

"Um, yeah... but..." Sugata stuttered and shuffled awkwardly, which was quite unbecoming of a lumbering tough guy like him.

The Cherry Boy focused his attention on the Class Rep. "Uh, Machida? What are you two talking about?" probed Tomoyuki. The trio then started talking over one another.

"Sugata-kun! D-Did you see...?" asked a tomato-faced Miku to Kazuhito.

"N-No! I saw... nothing..." trailed off Kazuhito as soon as he heard the word "see" from Miku. He trailed off a bit too soon for Machida's tastes, in fact. "N-Nothing at all!"

"NOOO!"

"I-I'M SORRY!"

"Seriously, what happened on the roof of the school?" queried Tomoyuki as Miku and Kazuhito averted each other's gazes. Once again, Yamamoto was serving as the third wheel of sorts between couples or would-be couples.

"IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!" both Kazuhito and Miku chorused.

"Fine, all right. Jeez," said Tomoyuki as he backed off from the obviously stressed-out duo.

"Yamamoto-kun! Guess who?" Two hands found their way right unto Tomoyuki's eyes, their non-manicured fingers covering his sight.

"Ah! Michiko!" blathered Yamamoto at random. In retrospect, he might've combined the names of two of the girls he was closest with together to come up with such a name.

He then heard snorting laughter as the soft hands removed themselves from his face, grabbed his shoulders, and turned him around. "It's me, silly."

"Sei... Okamoto!"

Just then, Yamamoto's muse... nay, his goddess... arrived on the scene, her luxurious hair whipping past him and spraying him with the scent of her fragrant shampoo.

"Heya, Yamamoto-kun! Class Rep!" The tall, ponytail-wearing beauty with perfect alabaster skin, bouncy brown hair, legs that went on forever, and a uniform that, in Tomoyuki's humble opinion, could not contain the girl's supermodel curves and bodacious chest, greeted nearly everyone in front of her.

"S-Seiko-chan...!" A tearful Machida hid behind Seiko Okamoto, sniffling all the while. "Sugata-kun, he... he...!"

"What did Furyou-kun do to you this time, Miku-chin?" demanded the lovely Seiko with a determined frown and a magnificent glare that made Tomoyuki's heart skip a beat. As a by the way, "Furyou" was synonymous to juvenile delinquent in Japanese, as was "Yankee".

A panicky Kazuhito begged, "W-Wait, Machida! Don't say something to that Amazon Queen that people will misunder...!"

His pleas came too late as he got floored by a roundhouse kick from Section 2B's resident karate champ... the karate club's captain, no less... her skirt fluttering so high that Tomoyuki had to avert his eyes in order to avoid seeing the brusque female's feminine undergarments.

He did hear the furious button pushing of half a dozen guys who suddenly slid and slithered into the scene so that they could take pictures of it with their camera phones.

"There's no need to look away, Yamamoto!" Seiko reassured. "I'm wearing spandex underpants!"

"Oh, is that so? Hahaha," monotoned Tomoyuki while the rest of the gathering male classmates grumbled in disappointment. Nevertheless, none of them deleted the pictures that they took of Okamoto either. Meanwhile, the rest of Class 2B's girls admonished them for being perverts.

"You're such a nice guy, unlike some of the rabid wolves in our class," said Seiko to Tomoyuki.

"T-Thanks." If only she knew... of his erection.

"Never change, Yamamoto-kun!" said Tomoyuki's crush as she nearly crushed his shoulder with a friendly squeeze.

"Yes, Yamamoto-kun! You should always be my friend!" one of Yamamoto's classmates teased by whispering the words in a mock falsetto.

"Shut up," Tomoyuki grumbled under his breath while he scoped out Seiko talking to Miku, the former asking the latter if she was all right.

"Um, while I'm thankful and everything, you shouldn't have hit Furyou-kun... I mean, Sugata-kun so hard," said Miku while tending to the swirling-eyed resident yakuza-looking delinquent of their class. "Maybe he didn't mean to see 'it'..."

"Oh, you're adorable as always, Miku-chin! If only I were as cute as you!" said Seiko as she bent down in front of the Class Rep, and rubbed her cheek against hers.

"Oh, stop it, Seiko-chan! You're gorgeous!" giggled Machida.

Tomoyuki had no idea why the gorgeous, full-bodied, big-breasted, well-proportioned, and pony-tailed girl would think that way, especially considering all the men drooling after her. Maybe it was the fact that she was as tall, if not taller, than most of the boys in his class. But then again, none of them... boys or girls... had the firm and round butt that she had.

"By the way, what did Furyou-kun see that you didn't want him to see up on the roof?" asked Seiko, which made the Class Rep avert the tomboy's inquiring gaze.

"I-It's nothing, Seiko-chan..." Miku said while wiping the chagrined droplets of sweat that formed on her forehead.

"Did you accidentally show him your underwear and he's now furiously apologizing for it?" said Seiko, and the subsequent reactions of both Machida and the allegedly unconscious Sugata confirmed her suspicions.

"THAT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENED AT ALL!" they chorused, with Kazuhito finally recovering from his "pratfall" earlier.

Seiko knew she hit the nail right on the head. With half-lidded eyes, she said, "Sure, sure. Whatever you say. But Miku-chin, regardless of what you were doing back on the roof deck, you need to be more conscious of yourself. Pervs like Furyou-kun here..."

"HEY!" complained Sugata.

"...They're always on standby to sneak a peek or a glance at girls if they act too defenseless. You shouldn't be afraid of punching them around to show them who's boss from time to time either. Don't buy into that 'boys will be boys' crap for a second," lectured Okamoto.

"Ah, punch them? N-No, that's impossible for me, Seiko-chan!" insisted the bespectacled, ninety-pounds-when-wet class representative. "Besides, he didn't see my underwear... or so he says... I mean, he probably didn't. I think."

"Well, excuse me, but you should mind your own business, Amazon Queen!" said Kazuhito while wildly pointing at Seiko. "If you'd listened first before kicking me at the back of my head, then you'd realize that you've jumped to wrong conclusions again, you violent gorilla!"

"You keep calling me Okamoto or Amazon Queen nowadays, but back in Hiroshima, you called me something different altogether," teased Seiko.

"What did you call her back then, you lucky dog? Honey? Darling? Dear?" hooted one of the boys at the back.

Seiko winked and did a peace sign. "He used to call me Sei-kun!"

After a moment of silence, the entire class chorused, "Eeeh?"

"That's a really rude thing to call a girl, Sugata-kun! Even for you!" yelped one of the girls as they whispered among themselves. When it came to Kazuhito and his girl-related antics, he was always making a spectacle of himself in front of everyone.

"She's a true bro! Man, I wish I had a tomboy girlfriend back in my hometown," piped up another random classmate.

"Don't misunderstand! That name was all her idea! I just went along with it!" insisted Kazuhito as he proclaimed his innocence.

That was right. Just like in some sort of trite manga romantic comedy, both Kazuhito and Seiko were childhood friends back in Hiroshima.

Yamamoto idly wondered if Sugata did something for Okamoto back when they were in daycare that indebted her to him for life. Did he bring her a juice box or put a plaster strip on her scratched knee or something?

That amazed the Cherry Boy, for he could barely remember what he did last week, much less what happened during his childhood.

Seiko chuckled. "And did you know, Miku-chin, back when we were kids, whenever the neighborhood bullies made him cry or flushed his head down the toilet, I came to the rescue and...?"

"WAH!" exclaimed the big, bad, and blond Kazuhito before Seiko could finish the rest of her story.

"Oh, stop being a big baby, Furyou-kun!" teased Seiko as she took out her mobile phone. "Speaking of big baby, here's an old photo of him that I scanned and uploaded to my cell phone. Behold: Little Furyou-kun crying after wetting his bed!"

"STOP IT, SEI-KUN!" Sugata hissed his pet name for Seiko without thinking as he dived to keep Okamoto from revealing their childhood secrets to the class. This wasn't an unusual routine for the two, though. Yamamoto remembered last week how they got into an argument over how they used to bathe naked together when they were kids.

Oh, how Tomoyuki envied Kazuhito so. With that said, he was about to envy him even more.

Because of Sugata's desperation to snatch the athletic Seiko's phone, he ended up missing her cell by a mile, which led to his hand landing right on his supposed childhood friend's not-so-insignificant chest.

"KYAAA!" squealed Seiko as Sugata accidentally groped her.

"AH! I'm sorry! It was an accident! P-Please believe me, Machida! Er, S-Sei-kun... I mean, O-Okamoto!"

The boys of Section 2B... Yamamoto included... were too shocked to actually take pictures of Seiko time around. Not that they would even attempt to... even those who weren't trained in martial arts could feel the bloodlust and murderous intent emanating from the depths of Okamoto's person at the moment.

"This is a misunderstanding! You believe me, don't you, Machida-san?" pleaded Kazuhito.

"Whatever you do with your spare time is your business, but please keep it in private, Sugata-kun. The school is a place for learning," said Miku as she primly straightened her seat and faced the blackboard. She then added, "You can let go of her now."

"Ah! I'm sorry!" said Sugata as he let go of Okamoto's boobs. "I didn't realize my hands were still there! Come and help me out here, Cherry Boy!"

"...Cherry Boy?" repeated Tomoyuki with a sour grimace.

"Er..." Kazuhito gulped.

Yamamoto felt for Sugata. He really did. Among the boys that regularly bullied him in their class, Kazuhito was one of the people who, well, bullied him less than the others did when it came to his failed romantic exploits. Nevertheless, Tomoyuki had no intention of getting in the way of his beloved crush's wrath.

"FURYOU-KUUN...!"

Instead of begging for forgiveness, the foolish Sugata kept digging his own grave as he let go of Okamoto's chest. Brushing his blond hair back while avoiding Seiko's gaze, Kazuhito muttered, "As if I'd enjoy groping you, you Amazonian Newhalf."

Ah, now he said it.

"N-N-NEWHALF?"

For those who didn't know, a newhalf was a transsexual or hermaphrodite who looked for all intents and purposes like a woman save for having a penis. The phrase was a bit dated... Kazuhito probably heard it from the older generation delinquents he hung out with... but apparently, even Seiko knew what it meant.

"You're the one to talk, you... you... yazuka-looking Yankee!" screamed Okamoto.

"Oooh, burn," deadpanned Sugata.

Stunning as her looks were, Seiko didn't really have a way with words.

However, she managed to win their brief "debate" with a neijidaoshi that essentially twisted Kazuhito's arm into tapping out for mercy.

"AH! Sugata-kun!" Yamamoto heard Miku call out to Kazuhito.

'Guess Seiko won the debate this time.'

What did the Class Rep call the logical fallacy for "winning an argument through violence" again? Oh yeah, Argumentum ad Baculum or Appeal to Force. Seiko "won" by "baculum".

'Why do I know that? I've been hanging out with Machida too much,' Yamamoto realized.


After classes had ended, during dismissal time...

Tomoyuki sighed as he crumpled his love letter to Seiko, tore it into pieces, and put it inside his pocket (trash receptacles had been scarce around Tokyo since the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway back in 1995).

Yamamoto couldn't do it. He couldn't put his letter inside Seiko's shoe locker. Even though it wasn't signed with his name, he couldn't bear the thought of handing it over to her. Not today, at least.

As he and the Class Rep rode on the train going straight to their homes, his female companion remained mostly quiet in regards to what had happened in the classroom earlier that morning.

She still hadn't revealed what had occurred between her and Sugata atop the school's roof deck, and she was particularly mum on what transpired after Seiko made Kazuhito tap out.

With that said, it wasn't as if Okamoto and Sugata suddenly stopped talking to each other or anything after their most recent "argument" (more like "lover's quarrel", really). They have spats like that every other day.

Instead, they ended up having yet another tongue-and-cheek debate during lunch break concerning the growing population of herbivore men (i.e., grass-eating men or "soushoku danshi" who lacked interest in dating and preferred quieter lives without competing for women) in Japan, as if nothing happened.

Such was the bond between childhood friends.

Come to think of it, Tomoyuki overheard Seiko defending the so-called soushoku danshi phenomenon and using him, the Cherry Boy of Section 2B, as an example of a perfectly well-adjusted herbivore man.

'Seriously, fuck my life.' was the idle thought that played inside Yamamoto's head while he and Miku conducted some small talk of their own concerning her upcoming Comiket attendance.

Speaking of "Comiket appearance", Rotten Girl also had a special costume ready to hide her true identity as mild-mannered Miku Machida, Class Representative of Maehara High's Section 2B.

The last time he saw her preparing for the event, she was decked in glasses that looked more like the bottom of old Coca-Cola bottles, plaid shirts, plaid bandannas, plaid accessories, denim pants, old sneakers, and a cat-like smile.

Comiket, as Machida would always remind Yamamoto, wasn't merely a major comic book fair for self-published works; it was the second largest fair of its kind that started way back in 1975, so it was already in and of itself an "institution" in Japanese nerd culture.

More to the point, it was the Mecca or Gandhara of Japanese geekdom. Many otaku and fujoshi like Miku undergo pilgrimages to Tokyo Big Sight (the venue where Comiket was held), as though they were devout Buddhist monks traveling to Nepal and India for spiritual enlightenment.

At any rate, as the two classmates got off the train and went their separate ways... which wasn't far, since Machida was his next door neighbor... Tomoyuki made a beeline to his home and room upstairs, took off his clothes till he was in a t-shirt and boxer shorts, and plopped face down onto the bed.

Yamamoto knew the reason why he couldn't give his love confession letter to Seiko that day by slipping it inside her shoe locker. It had nothing to do with his inherent shyness... at least, this time around, it wasn't the case.

Just what was the relationship between Seiko and Kazuhito? Was it something like those found in love comedy manga, wherein the more a couple teased each other, the more they were actually (or secretly) in-love with one another? Tomoyuki only wished he could carry a decent conversation with Okamoto the way Sugata did.

Granted, Seiko also friendzoned Yamamoto, but at least she didn't recoil in horror at his attempts at conversation. Most importantly, she hadn't given him the "Let's just be friends" speech yet.

He could make her laugh, she was always friendly around him, and he had no intention of spoiling what they had by asking her out. He couldn't risk ruining his chances with her by putting his foot in his mouth, unlike with Sugata, who could say all sorts of dumb things to Okamoto without any fear of losing her.

If Miku were there to hear his thoughts, she'd probably comment, "Nice Clerk Syndrome," and leave things at that.

On the other hand, Sugata and Okamoto's relationship might just be as platonic and harmless as Yamamoto's relationship with Machida. Perhaps Tomoyuki was reading into things too deeply. The bottom line here was that he didn't have the balls to send Seiko his love letter for whatever reason, and that was that.

Yamamoto turned and lay on his back. He then stared at the ceiling. He surveyed his poster-laden room; movie posters of all shapes and sizes from different eras of Japanese film, particularly during the fifties, which was considered the golden age of Japanese cinema.

He was also fond of the pink film era, which somewhat allayed his parents' fears of him not getting married because he actually had posters featuring classic softcore pornographic theatrical films.

After all, he was a virgin by choice... the girls' choice.

Then again, if his classmates ever caught wind of his pink film collection, he'd be called a virgin pervert instead of just the "Cherry Boy".

Nevertheless, his mother and father were still worried that the closest he had to sexy posters of girls were ones that featured women who were senior citizens by now. It wasn't normal, after all.

'It's not my fault I'm being friendzoned left and right by the girls around me. It's not like I can do anything about it.'

The posters of pony-tailed, strong-willed tomboys in princess or "hime" cuts... like Princess Yuki Akizuki from the Akira Kurosawa film, "The Hidden Fortress"... served as evidence of Yamamoto's normalcy, at least in his mind (in spite of the fact that the actresses in those films were also already grandmothers or dead at present).

He scrolled through his contacts list as he considered whether or not he should call the Class Rep concerning his latest exploits in the world of Seiko Okamoto when he chanced upon a number that wasn't there before.

Strange.

He checked out the name of the contact.

It was Seiko Okamoto.

He afterwards choked on his own spit as his mother called him to come downstairs for dinner.

Who entered Seiko's number on his cell phone? Was it really Okamoto's number, at that?


By the time he had his dinner, went back to his room, and checked his phone to see if he wasn't seeing things, he saw that the number and the name were still there.

To call or not to call. That was the question.

Actually, the likeliest question for Tomoyuki was, 'How the hell did I get Seiko's number?'

Was it some sort of prank care of his bullies or even Machida? She probably had Okamoto's number in her address book. If it was, then the Class Rep was free to pull pranks on him every goddamn day!

'Of course I'm not going to call,' thought Tomoyuki even as his twitchy thumb moved above the call button. He then pocketed his cell phone and paced around his room. 'I'm putting the horse before the wagon. What am I supposed to say to her anyway?'

On the other hand, he mused, 'What's the use of having her cell phone number if I don't call it?' He checked out the number. Instead of the usual area code of eleven, it instead came out as three.

'Oh, now I get it.' This wasn't Okamoto's number. It was someone else's number but it was listed as "Okamoto Seiko " to fool him. Those good-for-nothing assholes back in his class probably did it. They most likely still remember that time when he got the wrong text message from a girl who wanted to ask some other guy out.

Those rat bastards.

He had half the mind to delete this contact, since calling it could lead to a long-distance call. Then again, maybe it was one of those special issue, custom-design numbers, like a P.O. Box that hid the actual address of the recipient. Do those even exist in cell phones?

'There's no such thing as a custom number! What the hell am I thinking?' thought Tomoyuki while flicking his forehead with his own forefinger.

Well, there was one way to find out the truth. Maybe he was playing into the hands of his bullies, but it was worth a shot of this really was Seiko's number.

He wasn't looking forward to being called a stalker who got people's numbers without their permission, though. Maybe he should apologize...?

But what if she found it creepy? Should he even have the number in the first place? She might even ask, "Why didn't you apologize to me face-to-face, Yamamoto-kun?"

Forget about confessing, he might not be in the Amazon Queen's good graces if he were to call her number! She'd definitely be suspicious about why he had it and why he was calling her.

A hundred things could go wrong as soon as he called, like her admitting to him that she was in love with someone else (probably that dense delinquent Sugata) or she'd never consider going out with someone as bland and mealy-mouthed as him. She could even bring up both reasons during his call.

Maybe he should delete the number altogether? The last thing he wanted to do was to give Okamoto the wrong impression. But this was a chance in a lifetime. Could he really let this golden opportunity go?

'No, no. I should make amends for somehow ending up with her number without her knowing, and then confess to her later on... Not the other way around. If anything, this is the exact wrong time to confess anything to her.'

He should delete the number. If he wanted her number, he'd ask for it. Or, if he really wanted to call her, then maybe he should make a flowchart concerning topics of interest to keep their conversation... flowing. Maybe he could talk to her about sports or martial arts or something.

Before he knew it, his body had moved on its own. He'd already pressed the call button on Seiko's strange phone number instead of confirming its deletion.

"..."

He aborted the call before it got through, which would mean it'd come out as a missed call in Seiko's cell phone. As he fidgeted and fumbled over his own mobile phone, he reassured himself, 'It's okay. It's just a missed call. It's no big deal... you gigantic idiot!'

He banged the phone on his head while admonishing himself, 'She's only going to think some creepy stranger with an unlisted number in her phonebook is stalking her, that's all! Next time, to make sure you're really screwed, you should pant and breathe heavily when she answers, you fucking moron!'

Then his phone rang, which made him jump and nearly drop his cell phone on the floor.

He answered his cell. 'Why'd you answer the phone, you dolt? GAH! It's now or never!'

"Hello? I got a missed call from you. Who is this?" asked the girl on the other line.

He'd recognize that voice anywhere. It was Seiko. 'Holy shit. It really was her phone number!'

"Are you some kind of creepy otaku stalker or something? If you think that breathing heavily and not answering is going to scare me, then you've got another think coming, you pervert! They can trace calls easier through mobile phones, don't you know?"

Yep, that was the Amazon Queen, all right. She sounded angry. It almost broke his heart to hear her sound so angry at him, for once.

"I'm hanging up now..."

"No, wait! It's all a misunderstanding! I called your number by accident, I swear!"

The drone of static on the other line sounded like a death sentence to Tomoyuki. "Well, that's interesting, Mister Stalker. Care to tell me how you got this number?"

Yamamoto considered outing Machida or his bullies as the culprits, but thought the better of it. He needed to own up to his mistakes. How could he confess to the Amazon Queen if he didn't have the guts to take responsibility for his actions? He'd rather face this head-on than let someone else take the fall for him.

"I'm not a stalker. I'm your classmate, Yamamoto Tomoyuki. Remember me?"

For a minute there, Tomoyuki thought that Okamoto had already hung up. "Yamamoto...? Is this Yamamoto-kun? I should've recognized your voice earlier, but I couldn't believe that you'd actually call me!"

"Uh... in regards to how I got this number, I'm not sure myself, but...!"

"I don't believe this. Why did you want to call me, Yammamoto-kun?" She exhaled. "I was so scared. I thought some creep had gotten a hold of my number or something. You should've told me it was you earlier, dummy!"

"I-I'm sorry I got your phone number from someone else, Seiko-chan...!"

'Whoops. Easy there, Tiger. Go down a gear or two.' He had just called Seiko by her first name, even though they never referred to each other on a first-name basis (or "yobisute").

He should calm down. If he didn't control his impulses, he might confess his love to her on the cell phone then and there!

"Y-You don't want to be called Seiko-chan?" he asked. Stupid question. Of course, she didn't want to be called that. They weren't close enough for him to call her that.

"'Seiko-chan'..." she murmured to herself. "You never called me that. Um, I-I don't really mind the name. So tell me... why did you want to call me anyway? Is this about Mika-chin...?"

"Machida? No, I... I wanted to talk to you." He could feel his heart pulsating through his chest like an insistent drumbeat.

"W-What about me? You know I'll always lend an ear to you, Yamamoto-kun. A-And you should've just asked for my ph-phone number," she stammered, which took him by surprise.

Like a creepy pervert who confessed his love way too early to the nearest nice person he fancied, Tomoyuki blurted out, "I actually called you so that I could ask you out. For the longest time, I've been totally in love with you."

"..."

"Hello...?"

She didn't answer for a whole minute.

'Stupid, stupid, stupid.'

This was just like what had happened when he got that love confession text from a girl by accident. If he hadn't opened his big mouth and boasted to everyone in his class that she confessed to him, then he wouldn't have ended up making an ass out of himself.

No wonder that girl never talked to him again. She probably thought he was some sort of needy, desperate virgin to humiliate her like that. He should've at least messaged her back to confirm the text. This was why he was going to die alone.

Maybe this was for the best. Maybe it was about time Seiko put him out of his misery. But he didn't want his fantasy with her to end like this. He didn't want to hear the "Let's Just Be Friends" speech.

Before Tomoyuki's "Just kidding!" disclaimer left his lips in order to salvage what remained of their (surely shattered) relationship, Seiko said, "I thought it was one-sided."

'...W-What?'

Did he hear her right? Wait, wasn't he supposed to apologize to her for calling her number that he somehow received from the ether, which made him look like a suspicious creep? How did this talk go from her accusing him of being a stalker to her confessing that she felt the same way as he did, romantically speaking?

He sure wished he had that conversation flowchart he was planning to make on hand before taking this call! "O-Okamoto...!"

She started speaking again. Thank goodness she didn't hang up. "...Oh, wait. You were kidding, weren't you? I apologize. I misunderstood. You were always such a kidder, weren't you? I'm sorry you had to hear that," she sniffled.

"...Are you crying?" asked Tomoyuki.

"N-No, you idiot! I don't cry! It's just my allergies acting up. I think I'm coming down with something. I probably won't make it to school tomorrow. B-By the way, I was actually k-kidding too..."

"Well, I wasn't kidding," Yamamoto interrupted.

"...Eh?"

"I wasn't kidding about what I said at all. I'm seriously in love with you. I want to get to know you better. For the longest time, I was so jealous of Sugata, who was always getting your attention. I always wanted to have a girlfriend like you, Okamoto. Will you go out with me?"

He could hear her stop breathing from the other line. "S-Sugata...? Oh, so you remembered our little talks."

'What little talks?' he thought, but he disregarded her remark and pressed on. He was at a point of no return. It was time for him to man up. "What's your answer, Seiko-chan?"

He heard what he thought were more sobs. He could barely imagine it, the Amazon Queen of Section 2B, bawling her eyes out. "More allergies?"

"Yes. Shut up." The sounds from the other line got muffled, which Tomoyuki deduced was because she hid her phone inside her pillow or something. Again, he was afraid that the Princess Akizuki of his life had hung up on him in the middle of his confession.

After a while, she started speaking again. "I guess it's my turn to answer now, huh?

"Huh? Er, yeah. Please, go right ahead."

She took a deep breath. "If you're not kidding and you're serious about what you just said, then I'm not kidding either. I kind of, sort of, maybe have had a crush on you since we met. I was afraid you never saw me that way, and I was too off-putting or unfeminine for you to like that way, among a variety of other reasons."

"A variety of other reasons...?"

"Well, you know... you and Miku-chin... I thought you two were pretty close, like childhood friends or something. You know each other like the backs of your hands."

"Oh. No. The Class Rep and I only met last year, and we're not... like that."

Seiko's lulls of silence that were punctuated with phone static had begun to become obtrusive.

"D-Did she dump you or...?"

He chuckled to himself. He couldn't believe she'd actually act jealous over Machida, of all people. "No, she didn't. Well, she kind of did. She friendzoned me."

"B-But you said to me that...!"

"I don't know what I said to make you think that way, but from the very beginning, I've always had my eye on you and no one else. Please believe me when I say that."

"...Dummy. Stop saying embarrassing things like that."

Tomoyuki gulped down hard and croaked, "So... are you available this Saturday? We can go out and see a movie or do whatever it is you'd like to do."

"S-Saturday's great. Just tell me the date and time." She cleared her throat before admonishing, "I swear to the gods that if this is some sort of sick prank call, then I'll wrap your scrotum around your neck and chock you to death with them!"

Yamamoto laughed out loud. "Now that's sounds more like the tomboy that I know and love."

"L-Love...?"

After she let out some peculiar sounds (perhaps squeals?) of surprise that Tomoyuki found adorable, she said, "N-Now don't get too ahead of yourself just because you confessed to me! Don't get too cocky!"

"If that's what you wish, Amazon Queen."

"Amazon Queen... That name has a nice ring to it." He could almost imagine her biting her lip and thumb as she asked, "Can I call you something like that too, Yamamoto-kun?"

She was acting weird again. A nice ring to it? The whole class always called her that. Maybe she was being sarcastic again. "How about you call me Cherry Boy? I don't mind that name so much when I hear you say it."

"Are you serious?" She giggled, which made his face feel warm all over. "Whatever you want, Cherry Boy. It's a weird pet name, though. Are you saving your virginity for someone special?"

"HEY!" yelped Yamamoto before confessing, "I wasn't before, but now I'm considering it."

The rest of their desultory conversation became a blur as they ironed out the details in regards to their date, but by the time Tomoyuki hung up, he felt as giddy as he did after watching a marathon of Kurosawa Classics.


The next day, a Thursday, at the front gates of the Maehara High School...

Yesterday was the happiest day of Tomoyuki Yamamoto's life. He hadn't had a chance to tell Miku the good news, but even if he did, she probably wouldn't believe it until she saw it with her own eyes. He hadn't had the chance to sleep a wink either.

Imagine him, the so-called King of Virgins and Nerds, snagging the karate champion Amazon Queen of Section 2B! They even sound like an unlikely royal couple. It was certainly something he didn't dare imagine in a thousand years.

He wasn't used to seeing that side of her yesterday. The way she stuttered and stumbled over her words when he first confessed to her made his heart swell inside his chest. When she became more at ease when it came to talking to him, her swagger and boisterous laughter made him fall even more in love with her.

Granted, her discussion of sports, sports statistics, sports figures, the fact that she was a huge Hanshin Tigers fan, boxing, karate, soccer, and how she wished that the PRIDE Fighting Championships was still around were hard to follow at times, but the topics weren't any worse than his constant chats with Machida regarding what she referred to as "Japanese subculture" (and what he considered as "fujoshi yaoi talk").

Dealing with a girlfriend who could beat him in arm wrestling, was taller than him, was stronger than him, was their classroom's resident beauty, and was certainly many leagues above him in terms of the social ladder was something he had to get used to.

'Wow. A girlfriend. I got a girlfriend. By the gods, it finally happened.'

Come to think of it, what did she see in him for her to be enamored with him anyway? He should ask her about it as soon as he got the chance.

He sure hoped this wasn't some sort of sick prank and that the giggling, crying girl he talked to earlier truly was his beloved Seiko. He should be fine; the Amazon Queen seemed hardly the type that would be in league with the bullies that beleaguered his school life.

He'd been getting quite a lot of text messages from her. Short and terse ones, actually. It wasn't filled with hearts and smiley faces, like the mail he got from Miku, but then again, that was to be expected from the Amazon Queen.

"Hey, you look awfully perky today, Yamamoto-kun" said someone from behind him.

He almost choked on his heart as it attempted to jump out his throat. "S-Seiko-chan!"

Okamoto blinked repeatedly. "Seiko... chan?" she asked with a head-tilt.

"Oh, my bad! I mean... um... h-hey, Okamoto. Good morning."

Seiko shrugged. "Good morning, 'Tomoyuki-kun'," she said while doing air quotes at her "yobisute" manner of referring to Yamamoto. "So what's going on? Why so happy? Did Miku-chin finally gather the courage to ask you out?"

"What? No!" stated a startled Tomoyuki before he shook his head and smirked.

He should've known. His pet names for Okamoto... "Amazon Queen" and "Seiko-chan... were only reserved to when they were talking to each other in private. He shouldn't call her that in public. Were they supposed to keep the fact that they were going out (or about to go out this Saturday) a secret to the rest of the class?

As for the Class Rep thing, Seiko was probably acting jealous over Miku, so of course she'd be concerned about his next door neighbor. He cleared his throat.

"No, Machida didn't ask me out. And even she did, I'd tell her no, because she knows there's someone else whom I like."

Instead of the beaming face he expected Seiko to display, she looked downright downtrodden by what he had said. Did he say something wrong?

"I'll see you later, Yamamoto-kun."

"Uh, wait... about this Saturday...!" But she was already gone. What was with the cold shoulder? She seemed so happy yesterday. What changed?

He turned and saw Miku Machida right behind him with an agape mouth and wide eyes. If she looked shocked right now, then she should wait till she heard the good news that he was about to lay on her.

"Hey, Machida! I have something to tell you. Walk with me."

She smiled at Tomoyuki and patted his shoulder. "Maybe later, Yamamoto-kun." Yamamoto knew her long enough to tell that smile didn't quite reach her eyes. It looked like she was still depressed about what happened yesterday with Sugata and Seiko.

'Well, she shouldn't. Seiko is dating me now, not Sugata!'


A little later, when lunch break was about to end, near the warehouse that kept all of the school's sports equipment...

Yamamoto had been having a hard time contacting Seiko all morning. She had her usual spat with her childhood friend, Kazuhito, about whatever stupid topic they could think of, and Tomoyuki couldn't butt in during their "bull sessions" (more like "bullshit sessions"), boyfriend or no boyfriend.

Machida wouldn't talk to him either. The only person he could speak to was Sugata, and he was the last guy he wanted to chat with regarding this topic. For one thing, he still wasn't sure how Seiko's "boy who was her friend" would react to him dating the Amazon Queen. For another thing, "Furyou-kun" was kind of scary at times with that glare of his, even though he was nice to Tomoyuki most of the time.

Weirdly enough, Yamamoto had been getting a lot of encouraging messages from Seiko via mobile phone, saying that she herself was having a hard time talking to him. Her last text indicated that she'd talk to him as soon as she could. It had been many hours since then, and she hadn't messaged him since.

The school warehouse was the place where Okamoto hung out to do her karate kata or gather her thoughts. She herself said so in her text messages yesterday, so at least Yamamoto didn't feel like a huge stalker by going to this venue. Maybe he should text her first asking her to meet him there.

"We need to talk," said Seiko from behind Tomoyuki, which almost led him to drop his cell phone and let it shatter all over the pavement. She needed to stop doing that.

"Y-You're just the woman I was looking for, Sei... Okamoto. Okamoto Seiko." His attempt at calling her by her first name died when he saw the depressed look she was giving him. 'Right. Nice save there, moron,' he thought to himself.

The tall Seiko bowed her head low to meet Yamamoto's gaze as she shuffled her feet around. Instead of the confident posture she usually had as the Amazon Queen of Section 2B, she now looked like a stooped giraffe.

"I'm not sure I'm supposed to tell you this... and I hate meddling in the affairs of others... but as Miku-chin's friend, I think it's my duty to do so."

Machida again? Girls sure got jealous easily. "Look, I told you, there's nothing going on between me and Machida...!"

Yamamoto shuddered back into attention as Seiko snapped back at him, "YOU DENSE DOLT! Miku-chin is in love with you! No wonder our classmates keep calling you 'Cherry Boy'! You'll never pop your cherry at the rate you're going!" while holding him up by his collar.

She also stopped bending her neck and stood her full height of nearly six feet. What in the blue hell was going on? This was the first time he saw her so angry at him. Ever. "T-That can't be right..."

"Now get your butt back to class and apologize to her! I don't care who it is you have a crush on, you don't have a chance with them, I'm sorry to say. Besides, they could never love you the same way Miku-chin would."

He grabbed hold of Seiko's hand and pushed it away. No. This wasn't happening. It was only yesterday that they confessed to each other that their feelings were mutual. Were his suspicions correct? Was she lying when she said that she thought her feelings were one-sided?

"I can't accept Machida's feelings!"

"Don't be so pigheaded! You're perfect for each other! Why not?"

"Don't you remember? IT'S BECAUSE I'M IN LOVE WITH YOU! YOU'RE THE ONE WHOM I WANT TO GO OUT WITH"

He shouted so loud, a flock of birds from the nearby trees flew away as though there were an upcoming earthquake.

"Y-You're... kidding, right?" asked Okamoto. He couldn't make heads or tails of her expression. "You don't really see me that way, do you, Yamamoto-kun? Dammit, I'm the girl you were talking about earlier?"

He didn't like raising his voice against Seiko, but he couldn't help it. The painful memories of his rejection in the hands of the girl who sent her love confession to him by mistake still haunted him. Was he having some sort of nightmare right now, or was yesterday's fateful events instead the dream?

"What the hell are you talking about? Just yesterday, I got your cell phone number...!"

"...How did you get my cell phone number?"

"I-I don't know, I just got it! We've been over this!"

She put her hands on her hips. "We've been over what, exactly?"

"Don't play dumb! We talked on the cell phone yesterday. I accidentally let slip that I... like you. You said you like me back. We've been text messaging each other ever since! How can you forget?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about. I didn't receive any messages from you. I don't know your number. You never called me yesterday."

"...W-What?"

She had to be lying. She texted him a few hours ago. Did something happen? Did she change her mind? Did she want to pretend that the wonderful things that occurred the day before never happened?

He saw Seiko fidget and scratch her cheek. "But you deserve an answer in regards to your confession. I... I can't go out with you. There's someone else that I like. It's best that you start going out with Miku-chin instead. I only see you as a friend."

'What?'

Yamamoto first fell on his knees before he dropped down on all fours, completely devastated by Okamoto's revelation.

He asked, "So everything that happened yesterday was a lie? You were only pulling my leg like all the bullies in our class who kept harassing me day in and day out because of a simple mistake?"

Seiko craned her head back and narrowed her eyes as she regarded Tomoyuki with a mixture of bemusement and disgust. "Are you calling me a liar?"

The bitter virgin got up, dusted himself off, and said, "Yes. You're no better than all the other girls in our class or the assholes who've been bullying me since first year. You've raised my hopes up only to break them apart. You are a liar."

So Seiko decked him, and he fell down to the ground right on the seat of his pants.

"I'm sorry you feel that way, Cherry Boy. Goodbye."

Unequivocally, this was the worst day of his life.


To Be Continued...

Next: Talking to another you.

This was a story idea I came upon while browsing 4chan's /a/ board, specifically within a "Write an Anime Plot" thread. The person who came up with this plot bunny is Hataki, and he more or less gave his permission to have it written by anyone who cared enough to make it happen.

Because Hataki himself has been playing around with making his own version of Keit-AI... and many others are probably writing their personal takes on the idea... I thus put in "Tomoyuki x Seiko" as a subtitle of sorts to differentiate it from the rest.

Farewell,
Abdiel