Hello all you lovely people! Your reviews were able to get me to finish this today ;w; (seriously, I spent my entire day writing this. Now time to play my violin~!)
Welp! Here I am with the next installment of "To Reach You" ! This is actually quite long so I'll apologize now if it bored you or if you're bothered by any OOCness! If you have any questions, just either PM me or write a review and I shall respond! And if you find any mistakes, please tell me right away so I may edit and not live in shame too long.
Just a warning, this is already the entire first arc which is completely Karmanami. I'm sorry if you get overdosed or...underdosed 8")
Now! A response to all of your beautiful reviews!: (this will happen each time a chapter updates)
ANON: I'm glad you like it! And I go as fast as I possibly and creatively can uwu
Akabane-san: THANK YOU! AND THERE WILL BE MORE SO JUST HANG ON~! AND I LOVE YOU TOO!
KyoRina97: Thank you very much and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I absolutely love them too and can't help but feel that there's too less of them on this site and in the anime itself TTwTT. And lastly, I hope this chapter was able to reach your expectations!
CelestialGoddess: Your review REALLY helped me a lot with writing this chapter. It made me happy to see it detailed and thank you for the compliments! Speaking of those errors...mind PM-ing me to tell me about them? 8"). And also, about your question...that's for me to know and for you to read on and find out . (I'm a piece of crap, I know). Thank you again and I love Karmanami just as much as you do ^_^
harukaaa:Thank you and I'll write as fast as I can! (I definitely don't want summer ending and I'm not finished with this story yet). And Erina is supposed to be a hated character that's essential to Manami's growth as a character. You'll probably see more of her in later chapters...(I'm sorry)
animeandmangafangirl: OMG YOU'RE ONE OF THE LAST PEOPLE I EXPECT TO LEAVE A REVIEW BECAUSE YOUR STORIES ARE SO GOOD! TT_TT. I really like your story "Karma has a what?!" And I think Kiyoko's just ADORABLE (even though she can be an annoying little bi-). And I'll continue as long as I have willpower and time! Actually, this fanfic was also inspired from After E. A shame the author hasn't updated in a long time...AND I LOVE YOU TOO~
Okay now without any further disruptions, time for the disclaimer: I do not own Ansatsu Kyoushitsu or its characters. Only my OC's and this story ^_^
Chapter 2: The Lonely 1st Year and the Redhead that won't keep it that way (end of arc)
Manami yelped out of the blue but hurriedly had a hand cover her mouth for being so noisy suddenly.
"Ooohhh! Okuda-san!" Karma exclaimed, putting the juice box away and giving her a pleasant smile. "I didn't know you were attending this school!" he shifted his body to face her properly – the sure thing that was written on his face was that he looked happy to see her.
"Th-That's my line!" Manami yelled once more and mentally slapped herself for being so loud. She couldn't believe it. After all this time, someone close to 'home' was this near – not to mention it's the person that's been by her side most of the time during middle school. Despite the shock, there was some kind of joy forming along with it. Moments later, she realized there was an awkward silence that ensued between them, so she looked for something at the top of her head to talk about. "A-Anyway, that aside, what are you doing at such a secluded area?"
"Well…" Karma's eyeballs moved to the side as a mischievous grin formed on his features "One reason is because Rio's out to get me…" he said in a tone that just plain stated he was in trouble. The face of the angry, bloodthirsty blond appeared in his mind, ready to kill and with a menacing look in her eyes and he snickered at the thought.
He faced her again with his usual smile (which was very nostalgic for the four-eyed chem maniac) "Another reason is because I don't like being around too much people and being pestered by them often." He shrugged at his last few words and rested his back on the bench. He dare not mention most of them were girls.
"Nakamura-san is here too?" Manami's hands rested on the space between them, astonishment written all over her face. Karma looked at her with slightly raised eyebrows "Yeah, you didn't know? So are Hayami-san and Chiba. It's almost been a month since school started though. Shouldn't you know that by now?"
"Th-that's…" Manami trailed off. That was when she remembered how that came to be. Abruptly, she stood up and bowed "Oh S-Sorry A-A-Akabane-san. If you'll excuse me. I'm sorry for the intrusion!" She hastily picked up her lunch and other utensils and gave another quick bow before she left the poor redheaded sadist in confusion.
"E-eh?" Was all that came out of his mouth as his eyes followed Okuda-san's running form. She yelled another 'I'm sorry' before completely disappearing from his sight. This left Karma alone with his thoughts; and here he was actually quite glad to see another member of 3-E in his same school – it somehow took the boredom away albeit it be somewhat. Not to mention it was his 'Partner in Crime' Okuda Manami. He knew she was introverted, but he knows it's not to the extent that she would so much as stop herself from getting mixed in with people.
Something was definitely strange…
Narrowed eyes faced the direction the geek flew off to and his brows furrowed. He picked his juice box up one more time and was left to wonder …
"Yes, sir?" Manami stood from her seat with respect. Being called out had some of the students look her way – some had blank expressions while others…didn't have really pleasant ones to look at.
"I need another favor from you, is it okay?" he requested while reaching for some papers within his folder. Okuda nodded in acceptance of the task with a smile on her face. "What is it you need, sensei?" her voice was laced with enthusiasm and politeness and the teacher smiled back at this. "Would you please deliver these to the faculty office for me? You seem to be done with your math homework anyway."
"Right away, sir." She gladly took the papers and gently closed the sliding doors once she'd gotten out. Giving into some of her curiosity, she took a glance at the papers; but seeing nothing particularly interesting she simply focused on getting her job done.
That's of course, until she was side-tracked by a fellow she just encountered not too long ago. A slight raise of her head and he was there, walking in the opposite direction she was – his mouth was formed into a frown and his eyes were inscrutable. His hands rested inside his pockets as he eyed her, raising an eyebrow when all she did was look at him in a dumbstruck manner.
Wanting to change the situation they were in, she turned her gaze down to the floor and spoke in a tone just a little above a whisper "Good afternoon, Akabane-san." Followed by the small taps of a petite girl taking fast steps along the hallway.
Karma remained, watching the girl get away again, but this time his expression was blank.
But the same thing wasn't going on beneath that face he made.
Will I have to do that every time I see him? What about when I see the others? Do I have to continue running away like that?
Thoughts like these swam through Okuda Manami's mind. Her gaze was fixated on the cobblestone road she took home. Thankfully, there was no rain today, so the sunset to her left was beautifully giving out its brilliant orange beyond the bridge's cables and pillars. The sky was painted with a beautiful whirlpool of clouds with mixed colors of red, purple, orange and just a slight tinge of the night sky's blue.
…I don't like it…but…I don't know what I should do.
I wonder what will happen…
She didn't realize it, but there was someone standing on her path, anticipating her arrival – looking her way as his red hair would float due to the breeze by the river. He watched every step she made as they drew her closer to where he was standing. If estimated, she was about 12 meters away from where he stood. His hand was inserted to his pocket as his eyes studied the girl.
If I continue going on like this…will I eventually become…
At last, she noticed the presence of another in her way. Slowly , she lifted her gaze from the floor and purple eyes met with mercury. And from there she stopped moving, their orbs were locked together for the third time that day and a silence arose.
Karma was the first to break it with one of his signature grins "Yo."
Okuda didn't say anything back; instead, she presented him a pained look and eventually turned her head to the ground again. From the moment she was locked in his stare, she knew that he meant to talk about something, and wasn't letting her get out of it. Not only that, a sudden guilt washed over her for avoiding him twice today already. To do it a third time would be…
"Oii." He snapped her out of her thoughts by giving her a weak karate chop on the head (which still hurt). She let out a muffled cry and flinched at the redhead's gesture "W-what?" she stuttered out and looked up at him.
"So? Who did it?" he started bluntly.
"That." His finger pointed to her face where her expression laid – an expression that carried the eyes of a lonely rabbit, lost in the confusion of the world. "Who gave you such an ugly face?"
Okuda's eyebrows rose at his words, but not a moment later, her expression turned bleak and she gave up.
Karma already saw through her.
"I see. So where is this girl now?"
The two were seated by the river. Karma had his arms stationed behind his back to support his leaning body while Manami sat with her knees tucked behind her arms and her chin buried underneath; their bodies faced the setting sun.
"She transferred to another school because of her mother's job just about a week ago. But even then…" her fingers played with some nearby grass as her statement had been carried out cheerlessly.
"Something's weird…" Karma mumbled, his hand going in front of his chin in a thinking-like manner,
"Ah nothing! Never mind…" he quickly brushed away the idea and looked away from her for a few moments. "Anyway, what did you say to her that got everyone so mad in the first place?" he leaned back again, another smile forming on his his face; it was clear that he wanted to listen to her judging from his eyes
"What I said…?" Manami rested a finger on her chin, her purple eyes elevated to signify she was in the process of remembering " Uhm…I think it was along the lines of 'stop being so weak and dumb then' I think…"
Not a second later, Karma burst out laughing.
"H-Heh?! What's so funny?" she gave a small pout to the boy that was currently on the brink of having tears fall from the edge of his eyes due to the laughter – he even had to hold his stomach to keep from losing balance.
"You really said that?! Wow!" by this point, he had begun to calm down and face her properly again after wiping a single tear off.
"I don't think it's something to really praise though, Mika—I mean… she looked kind of hurt when I said that…" her eyes travelled downward guiltily and her hands balled into fists by the sides of her knees. It would be better not to tell him her name; she wouldn't want to further complicate things
And the wind drifted by – Karma looked at her with raised eyebrows for a second or two until his stare shifted to the sun. "Any woman that dares call herself air-headed and hopeless is really just a pain in the ass to deal with."
Manami turned sharply to look at him when she heard familiar words escape his mouth. "That's something Bitch-sensei said once, right?" Karma stared at her once again with a grin of reassurance. Understanding where he was coming from, she nodded and gave him a warm smile.
"But still, what gave you the courage to say that?" he said in such a tone that sounded like he was biting back a small snicker. The girl gaped at him once more due to the unexpected question "Hm? Well…" she faced the setting sun again, but this time there were already a few stars twinkling above them – 'weak but still pretty 'she thought absentmindedly
"Korosensei once taught me something." She didn't need to look at Karma to know that his face had changed from playful to serious. "There was a time when I felt useless during an assassination attempt since I couldn't voice out my opinions for the plan because I was afraid that I might end up saying something awkward or not good enough. So…when Korosensei had me open up about it, he told me that if I'm honest about things and the way I felt, I'd feel satisfied with myself, I'd feel free and burdens will escape my chest, he said; that eventually, people will warm up to this honesty of mine…but I guess it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped it to be…"
Korosensei had left them with bittersweet memories. And Manami knew that among all the others in the class, Karma was one of the most devastated out of all of them.
It was quiet for a while; all that could be heard was the subtle winds of spring and the crickets that begin to coo during evenings. The sun was only seconds away from setting completely, and you could even hear the waves of the river having contact with the land as its water would kiss the shore.
Then he spoke.
"Isn't that okay? Even if they're not okay with what you said, as long as you are, you're not really fighting any battle or holding any burden, right? From the moment you speak what you feel in strong-hearted and doubtless way, you become the traveler passing by an aimless war." Karma gave her a knowing smile and placed a hand atop her head. "Don't worry, you did what was right."
And the chemist blinked at the mention of her doing the right thing. It was refreshing – it's been long since anyone's actually praised her for something she thought was completely pathetic of herself. Turning her head to look at him, she was shown an uplifting smile.
She was reminded of that time in Kyoto, when he praised her for running away rather than acting like a noble hero trying to save everyone. Even amidst all of her incompetence, he was able to bring up something positive about her decisions. The edges of her lips went upwards and she had to bury her head to hide her ridiculous looking smile.
"Alright, now that it's settled, let's both go home" Karma raised himself off the grass and swung his schoolbag on his left shoulder.
"Heh?! N-No need! You already spent too much of your time with me! I can go home alone!" it was Manami's turn to stand up – her hands waved around frantically to prove she didn't want him to do so much for her.
"Just let me~" he persisted, sticking a tongue out childishly.
"I'd feel bad—"
"Your house is this way right?" Karma was already far away, a hand was stationed above his eyes as he looked to the direction of her home.
"When did you—!" and that's when she gave up with an exasperated sigh.
The bell rang across the hallways marking the beginning of lunch time, and as usual, a young chemist would choose an early time like this to make her leave, heading to her special seclusion. But that was until she noticed something odd going on with her classmates – especially the girls.
They had their heads at the other side of the door, looking at something – rather, someone – whilst whispering things to each other. When Manami's curiosity got to her and she stepped closer to the scene, she could overhear the conversation the group of girls were having.
"Hey, that guy looks kind of hot doesn't he?"
"I don't think I've seen him around before, is he a transfer student?"
"No, but I heard there was someone that looked like him who was a delinquent that often skipped classes."
"A bad boy? That's kind of cool!"
"Should we go say hi to him?"
And so on and so forth. Upon the mention of the words 'delinquent' and 'skipping classes', she had a hunch she knew who it was and walked outside of the classroom. There he stood, casually leaning on the wall with a juicebox in hand and his other on inside his pocket. Classic Karma. It looked like he was waiting for someone until his objective came to view and he waved at her with his pocketed hand.
The wave had, apparently, caused the flurry of whispers to escalate their noise level. At this, she bit her bottom lip slowly approached the male. "Uhm…Akabane-san?"
"Good afternoon, Okuda-san" he chimed and Okuda could've sworn she heard some quiet squeals and distasteful comments she dare not pay any mind to, so she turned her full attention to the troublemaking redhead "Might I ask why you're here right now? Wouldn't you rather be someplace else?"
"Let's have lunch together~" he said playfully, already prepared to make his way to where they had their first encounter.
"Come on~" he teased. By this time, he was already pulling her by the wrist; and since he was obviously stronger than her, she easily had no chance to fend him off. Her shoulders tensed up and she became frantic; sweat began to bead on her forehead due to the nervousness despite the cold weather – especially when the commotion behind her seemed to heighten.
Okuda Manami was disgruntled. It was written all over her face as Karma rambled on about the crowd earlier and how funny it looked in his point of view – how the corridors were flooded with girls and how there was a raging animosity within the jealous eyes of the other school boys that caught his eye.
"…man, that was actually a little amusing!" he chuckled after his last statement regarding the topic and glanced at his companion's not so pleasant face. His smile faded at the sight, looking just a tad bit troubled "Did I make you angry?"
Okuda relaxed her shoulders and looked down at her cute pink chopsticks "No, it's just…" she turned her head to face him. "You don't exactly have a reason to be with me so wouldn't you rather spend this time with someone else or doing something much more enjoyable?"
"Does there have to be a reason? I like having you around. Is that a problem?" he stated it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world as the classic Karma grin showed itself once more. His words however, appeared to have lightened up her mood somehow. "Not at all but…" She wasn't entirely convinced by his answer, since she's never been told by anyone she was someone anyone would actually 'like' having around, but not wanting to dwell on this any longer, she decided to change the subject.
"You mentioned before that Nakamura-san, Chiba-san and Hayami-san were in this same school?" success, but it's not as if she didn't want to talk about it either way.
"Yeah, they're my classmates in 1-B, which was a pleasant surprise even for me. Okajima's in class D though – fella just won't stop following the tsundere sniper." Manami let out a small laughter as memories of the perverted boy following around the stoic ginger resurfaced. Funny, she hasn't been able to have this kind of conversation with anyone in weeks. It was refreshing, to be able to talk to someone without having to overthink about almost every little detail.
"But shouldn't you have seen them during the entrance ceremony?" Karma snapped her out of her little reverie and sipped on his juice, his chin rested on his palm.
"W-well…" then a memory of being squeezed in between two delinquent girls with way too much make-up on in the back-most row came to mind. The two were having a conversation that went something like:
'How's your latest boyfriend?'
'I dumped him.'
'No choice, he performed bondage play on me once when I was drunk. I'd rather he do that when I'm sober'
'You really are picky with your men.'
"I was occupied…" the poor geek cringed as her eyes looked off to the side; it was as if there were blue lines forming at the side of her head just by the simple memory of it.
"Sounds like a bad memory." Karma sweatdropped, a smile out of pity formed on his face when the shorter girl cringed at the mere mention of entrance ceremony.
"Never mind it please. In any case, you said that you didn't know I was going to this school, but shouldn't you have seen me during the ceremony too?" Karma scoffed at the question.
"You expect me to attend something as boring as that?" he leaned back on his chair, hands tied behind his head.
"Now that I think about it, the top-scorer of the entrance exam was a no-show that day…" Manami's mind wandered back to the day of the entrance ceremony, wherein the members of the faculty were undergoing a panic and anxiously whispering amongst each other for their speech giver was not present for his…speech.
"Was it you, Akabane-san?!" Okuda turned to him with eyes bearing admiration for him. She was barely able to make it through Japanese. She knew that if Karma were to take the test he'd handle it easily, but the fact he was the highest scorer of the examination still made her happy for him. He gave an exhausted sigh and nodded in a deadpan style.
"So you aced all of the tests?"
"All but one." He replied radiantly and stuck his tongue out like he was proud of such a slip-up.
"Which one, then?"
"Conduct." he said it with a knowing tone (since he was very well aware of his problematic behavior)
'Should've known…' it was Okuda's turn to sweatdrop.
The sound of a slow, tuneful bell filled the entire campus and its member's ears to denote that lunchtime had come to a close. Like always, Okuda would stand up right away and pack her things neatly, making sure the bench was still tidy before walking off to class – it was like her to be punctual. Before she took her leave, she faced Karma and tilted her head a little "You're going to class, right?"
"Yeah, I'll get going." But he made no effort to stand up. Manami felt like there was a mild hesitation before he answered but dismissed it as her imagination and continued to walk away, giving him a nod before she completely departed from the area.
Main building, After School
5:30 pm, an hour after the regular dismissal
'Oh yeah, I forgot to go grocery shopping yesterday…'
Thought the dark haired girl as the sound of her footsteps rang across the empty corridors of the Kimii campus. Her glasses shined with the same shade of orange the sun was giving out. Lately the weather's been less intense; the storms decreased and the most they would see of water droplets from the sky would be drizzles that would only last mere minutes and afterwards the sun would shine in its full glory. Manami always took times like these to actually appreciate the majestic sights nature would present her – which was a rare occasion, for most of the time she catches herself looking at the floor rather than what's above her.
'I guess I'll go today then, I think I brought enough money…" The girl stuck her hand inside her bag and scavenged for her wallet while she made her way to the shoe locker.
Little did she expect someone to be waiting for her at that exact same spot. He was leaning casually on the columns of lockers, hands inserted in his pockets as he seemed to be thinking about something until he saw her arrive and greeted her "Yo."
The chemist bit her bottom lip and took a few steps closer to where he was, the grip she had on the handle of her bag getting tighter. "Akabane-san, were you waiting for someone?"
"I was until she finally arrived." He lifted himself from the lockers and faced her properly.
"Why were you waiting for me?" she didn't have to ask why, since this boy's been following her around for the past two days now, but she just did so for conversation's sake. Though she did want to know what he wanted from her this time.
"Let's go get juice together."
Okuda wasn't sure how or why she got stuck in this kind of situation, she just was. How Karma had gotten her to follow him and his every whim, she didn't know. Currently, the two were seated at a bench outside the convenience store. Karma was already happily sipping his strawberry juice while Manami was yet to even try consuming it. It remained in her hands as its water dripped from the cold temperature of the grape flavored liquid. Her eyes remained downcast while Karma talked about how he had yet again messed with a certain overfamiliar blond in his class.
"Uh—" Manami tried to speak her mind – to ask once more why he's doing these things with her only to be cut off when he abruptly stood up and pointed towards something in the distance.
"Over there!" Manami's shoulders rose up in surprise at his sudden exclamation.
"W-What's over there?"
"I think I saw a frog leaping by the river." Without hesitation, he jogged over to the location he pointed to and left the slow Okuda in a panic as she yelled for him to wait for her and quickly picked up their bags to hang them on each of her shoulders, juice still in hand.
"Akabane-san!" she panted and placed her hands on her knees to try catching her breath once she caught up to him. Karma was crouched down as he stared intently into the large grass found next to the river, a relaxed smile plastered above his chin. Okuda found herself staring at it as well; true, it was indeed a frog. Its dark eyes looked around for a while and found them staring at it. The frog looked natural when it found Manami's eyes, but once it looked at Karma's wolfish ones, it looked like it tensed up a bit.
"I wonder if it's poisonous…" he uttered, already forming mischievous plans in that twisted noggin of his. Manami crouched down next to him and studied the frog for a bit
"I don't think it is…Poisonous frogs aren't really found in large cities." Her scientific side had begun to show itself, and Karma couldn't help but smile when he noticed the girl's eyes glint with interest. This was the Okuda-san he knew, and he hasn't seen it for the past two days despite having been with her during those times.
"Lucky guy then, I would've dissected it and relieved it of all its pride and glory." And the two could've sworn they heard the frog scream in horror internally as it jumped away from the duo. Manami giggled at the scene
"Dissecting would be fun, but I think I'd feel sorry for the little guy."
"Speaking of poisons, maybe you should cook some up for me like last time. We can work on it inside the Chemistry lab when Mikagura-sensei's out" Karma slyly commented, but it appeared to have given Okuda a frown.
"Anyway, as I was saying earlier, why—"
"Oh, Okuda-san, you haven't touched your juice yet." His finger pointed to the fruity drink she kept in between her palms.
"Ah— oh yeah…" she had forgotten she had the drink with her, and also the fact that she had to ask him his reasons for what he's been doing for the past days now. She took the straw out of its plastic containment and inserted it to the drink.
"But anyway—"she cut herself off after taking one sip off of her juice just to yelp out "that tastes good!" and gaze at the indigo-colored box in pure awe – she apparently enjoyed it so much you could see the stars twinkling by her head.
"You've never had a juice box before?" Karma looked at her with amuse; seeing the girl petrified by the juice was undeniably adorable.
Manami shook her head as she continued to sip "This is my first time—"
He changed the topic again!
"But at any rate—"Once she separated her lips from the straw's end she tried to start once more, only to be cut off again with another sentence coming from him.
"That's grape right? For some reason I think it kind of suits you~" he teased and stood from his spot to look at the own across the bridge.
"Really?" 'Ah! Not again!'
She stood up to try to be in level with him (albeit knowing how short she is compared to the tall boy), this time she was a little fed up with having unfinished sentences. So now, she was definitely not gonna allow herself to keep her words in this time.
"Oh yeah, I think that's the flavor I haven't tried out yet." And there he goes again.
"Care to give me a taste, Okuda-san?" he was really just making fun of her this time, and though it may be rare for Manami to have an outburst, this is one of the times it happened.
"Karma-kun!" she shouted, her eyes snapped shut and her shoulders tensed up. Her cheeks were red due to his embarrassing statement and slightly because of the frustration of being ignored. So many feelings were filling her up right now and she was naturally too slow of a person to really deal with such thoughts.
That outburst must've caused a lot of energy for the petite little girl started to pant. She had lots of other things to say like 'Please stop cutting me in mid-sentence!' or 'Listen to me!' but she had a feeling all of it had been relayed with just those words. When she opened her eyes however, she saw Karma giving her a genuine smile.
"What do you mean by finally?!" she absentmindedly yelled – perhaps she was still in the midst of recovering from her earlier outbreak.
"You called me by my first name~" He truly looked like he was happy with the way things turned out.
Okuda uttered a small surprised sound. Was that what he was trying to do this whole time?
"So, what is it?" now he was willing to listen to her. All of the 'Akabane-san' business just didn't sit right with him after all. Sure he'd let anyone else call him that, but to hear it come from her mouth was just off.
"Oh! Uh…" He caught her off-guard with the inquiry, since she seemed to have forgotten what she wanted to talk about in the middle of her apprehension.
Karma waited for her to collect her words as he watched her take a deep breath and started "Like I said before, why do you do this? I haven't really done anything for you, and I doubt I'm the most entertaining person to talk to so…"
Why do you keep giving me memories to cherish…?
"So…wouldn't you rather—"
"Again with the 'would you rather'?" 'Did he just cut me off again?!'
Karma took a few steps forward so he would lean his head down so their eyes met directly. "I said it before right? I don't need a reason to be with you, I just want to. And if there was something I'd rather do, I'd do it, right?" He gently pushed the girls chin up with fingers "So stop looking down and look up once in a while, hm?"
Karma's sincere smile and supportive eyes reflected on Manami's spectacles – and behind the two pieces of glass were slightly widened eyes.
"Huh?" The edges of Manami's eyes had suddenly brimmed with tears moments later, and she wasn't sure of the reasons why. "Huh?" she repeated after she gently pulled away from Karma's touch to remove her glasses and wipe her face – but that didn't stop any of the tears from continuing their path down her cheeks.
"S-Sorry…I'm crying without knowing the reason why." She stifled out a small laugh but it was quickly overtaken by her silent sobs that escalated after each word and after every attempt to stop the flow of saltwater from her eyes as they dropped to the ground.
It was futile to rub her eyes anymore, so she took her hands and covered her face with them, which caused her glasses fall from her face – luckily, Karma was able to catch them because of his reflexes. "I'm sorry you have to see this…" she mumbled, but it was audible enough to reach the redhead's ears.
"There, there." And he stroked her head, he was happy that his Okuda-san wasn't holding her emotions in anymore like she always did for the entire time he's known her. And from there, he watched her choke out sobs and let her tears stream down to her heart's content.
I'm not sure of the reason why my emotions took over me at that time…
Why was this person so nice to me?
I didn't even do anything for him, and yet I poured my feelings out in front of his sight; I should be ashamed, he's the last person that deserves to deal with me...
But even still…
…I was so stupidly happy…
Two pairs of footsteps walked under the evening sky, lamp posts lit their way as they continued the silent yet comforting journey back home. Some cars would pass them by, and sometimes there would be the sound of barking dogs during the night time, but all of these mundane sounds were, in one way or another, more pleasant compared to the other times Manami would walk down this road.
"You're still crying?" Karma's head turned to look at her face with curiosity.
"Eh – You don't really need to say sorry for that." He amended his mistake when he saw the guilt in Okuda's eyes.
"Okay…" Once she noticed they were in front of her apartment building, she halted. "This far is okay." She told him and he waved her a goodbye, continuing down the same path since that was where his house was. The fact they didn't live that far from one another was quite unexpected – they'd known each other since middle school and yet they didn't know their houses weren't a large distance away from each other.
Before Manami walked up the fire escape's stairs, she called his name once again.
"Karma-kun!" and she watched him turn around, his never-faltering smile that always lifted her spirits somewhat, revealed itself to her.
She felt something growing in her chest – it was the familiar feeling of wanting to word out your feelings. The last time she felt this surge of courage was in front of a scary brunette, but this time it's different. Her eyes gave the message that she was determined to let her honest feelings reach him, she wanted them to reach him, hoping he'd take them to heart and know that they mean a lot to her.
"Thanks for today…and all the other days. They really mean a lot to me…" her expression did not falter, it was clear to all those who would look at it that she was serious and truly sincere about those words. Her hands were balled into fists as they continued to stare at each other.
Did they reach you…?
To her utmost shock (and agony) he laughed. "You're not getting rid of me with a thank you." And there was the cheeky grin again – did he think she was joking?!
A sudden wave of dolefulness washed over the (very) disappointed geek at the words.
If she could die anytime, now would be a good time.
"Th-that's not what I—"she pouted, but her mouth was zipped when Karma spoke out his next words.
"Don't thank me; I'll gladly do it as many times as I want, so don't think I'll be leaving any time soon. Good night, Okuda-san~" and with a final wave of goodbye, he disappeared into the dark road, leaving Manami standing there with an idiot's grin on.
'Oh wait...I forgot to go grocery shopping again!'
For a reason she wasn't sure of, Manami was rather ecstatic today. Why? Probably because she finally went grocery shopping earlier this morning at around 5 am; or maybe it was because the sun was shining that day and the cherry blossoms were on their final days of bloom, which made them look all the more beautiful. No, it was because once class is over she'll be able to see someone she enjoys talking to, and not someone she has to avoid or filter words for.
Today was Saturday, so Kimii would only hold half a day of class. So once the last teacher dismissed 1 – C, Okuda was fast to fix her things and was one of the first ones to almost leave the classroom until
"Okuda-san?" it was the class representative, Kimizuki Rei. She had short black hair whose tips brushed against her neck and aquatic blue eyes – underneath one of them laid a small mole and the girl stood at almost the same height as she did. Her hands were formed into a praying position and her head was bowed – she needed something from her.
"Sorry to interrupt you when you're in a hurry, but could you please stay and clean the classroom for today? Miyamura-kun who was assigned to do it ran away and went off to karaoke, so, if you please?" she pleaded, it was clear she had something she needed to do, and it had to be done right away.
Okuda Manami only wishes to be helpful to the class, that's a given; but after she heard the words come out of her mouth, she felt a little crushed inside – she wasn't going to see him as soon as she hoped - heck, she might not even see him today.
But without thinking, she nodded her head. Kimizuki smiled and bowed properly "Thank you! Thank you so much! I'll make sure to tell Amamiya-sensei about your hard work! Thanks again, Okuda-san!" and without another moment to waste, Kimizuki-san ran outside the classroom, leaving Manami to the empty room of 1-C.
"And that's the last of it." The dark haired girl smiled proudly to herself for being able to clean the place up within a duration of 34 minutes (yes, she counts).
She scanned the room for any more suspicious and unwanted signs of dirt, but dismissing there were none left, she picked up her bag and smiled at her work. But a heavy feeling seemed to have remained on her chest as she took slow steps outside of the classroom.
I wonder if he's still there…
The image of a tall redhead leaned on the shoe locker flashed in her mind.
Just like last time…
She decided it wasn't too bad to hope and continued her walk down the hallway of the first year classrooms. Her mind brimmed with things they might be able to do together again, and frankly, she wanted to try that juice again.
Maybe when I see him, I'll ask if we can get some juice together. She smiled at the thought. What flavor should she try next? Karma-kun always had a strawberry juice box for as long as she could remember, maybe she should try that one next?
"I'm sorry for being so sudden but…!"
And Manami stopped dead in her tracks. Her body froze and her violet orbs shrunk beneath her shineless eyeglasses.
For some reason or another, the hallway looked darker than usual regardless of the radiant sun above their heads this day. The hold she had on the strap of her bag tightened when the following words reverberated through the vacant hallways.
"But...! For a while now…!" A girl exclaimed, she had short black hair from where Manami could see it, and she couldn't miss the mole underneath those closed eyes and reddened cheeks of hers.
"I've liked you for a while now! Akabane-kun!"
Okuda's body grew cold as a chill waved all around her body. There stood Karma, his hands inside his pockets as he looked down on the girl. His lips were formed into a thin line, and even if Manami wanted to know what his reaction was like (which she really didn't), she wouldn't be able to for his red locks hovered above them, making it impossible to read his expression.
Upon impulse, she ran away from the scene. Shock? No, it was something more than that. It was fear.
It's going to happen again.
She took sharp but quiet steps towards the school's exit as she panted heavily, a little paranoia filling her mind each step she took away from the scene.
Something flashed in her mind – it was a dark, gloomy classroom. Rain poured down remorselessly outside the window, and all possible colors were just grayscale. And seated at the back row of an empty classroom was a small girl with dark hair, fixed with two braids that fell on her shoulders, and glasses that had no ounce of sparkle in them – all alone, she took notes as the faceless teacher would write on the board.
I'm going to be alone again…
The image of her father with the words 'I'm sorry, Manami-chan' suddenly flashbacked in her head, and on instinct she took her hands and blocked her ears – as if that would help get rid of the memory. Of all the things she had to be reminded of today, it had to be her worst memory.
With gritted teeth, she ran out of the building and sulked by the wall next to the doors with tucked knees and just buried her head beneath her arms. And just then, one more memory had to resurface.
It was spring, the day of her middle school graduation. She stood behind the exit gates of Kunugigaoka Middle School and watched all of her beloved classmates walk away with their futures. And as if her mind wanted to play symbolic tricks on her, the gates of the school closed, leaving her all alone inside the dull middle school
I'll be left behind again…
She didn't know how long she was there, but it felt like hours of just sulking and being alone with her thoughts.
What would happen, I wonder…if Karma-kun got a girlfriend…
She pictured having lunch on the bench with Kimizuki-san and Karma minding their own business while she would eat and silently be the third wheel. Then she thought about their walks to school, and how she'd be around a meter away from the two as they went on with their love life.
'Either that would happen or…they'll completely leave me out of the picture' and the sulking just doubled. Now it felt as if there was a dark, brooding atmosphere hovering above her area.
"Oh, Okuda-san, you're still here?"
And that's when her eyes snapped open. Slowly, she lifted her head and was graced with Karma's face looking down at her against the bright sun. He had his usual face on as his arm rested on the wall next to her to support his body.
For a few seconds, Manami just looked at him – utterly dumbfounded when a blast of energy coursed through her veins and she jumped up, nearly bumping into Karma's chin. This boy was lucky to be the best assassin of 3-E, if he wasn't, he would've gone home with a broken jaw.
Karma, quite taken aback, responded with a hesitant "Uh…in the flesh?"
"But—! I thought you were with Kimizuki-san—" someone should give her a forehead flicking after saying that. 'Crud! I just gave away the fact that I was eavesdropping!'
She started to wave her arms around hysterically to try and make an excuse for knowing about that until Karma flat out responded with "I rejected her."
Manami stopped fidgeting around and looked up at him with surprised eyes. Rejected? So he's…not going to date her?
A moment later, he showed another one of his grins and picked her bag up to hand it to her "C'mon, let's go home~" he offered and began to walk on to the way their houses were. But the glasses-ed girl was yet to move from her spot as she stared at him walk.
So I've been overthinking this entire time…
Feeling refreshed, she did not hesitate to say the following words "Karma-kun!"
He stopped walking and looked back to where she stood, only to have her show him a face he never saw from her before. Her eyes gleamed under the sun despite the glasses blocking them and her smile could be in Karma's list of 'top most sincere things I've seen in my life' and she was standing with a bright and inviting aura all around her – what's more, the wind seemed to be in his favor today as it just enhanced the image she was giving him. To say Karma was amazed is an understatement.
"Can we…Can we go out for juice again?"
The redhead just stared at her in astonishment, to give him that kind of view, and all she wanted was that? Now he was really interested in this girl; finally, something worthwhile – he thought. At her request and his own thoughts, he laughed
"Are you an idiot?"
"Eh?!" 'Maybe I was asking too much?'
"Dummy, you don't have to ask."
At that moment, I finally felt like I was graduating Class E for real this time.
I'll take these new experiences head-on and move on.
I'm not an assassin, Korosensei's not my teacher, and I'm not a student of Kunugigaoka middle school anymore.
I'm Okuda Manami, first year student of Kimii High school. I'm shy, socially awkward, introverted and very bad with words.
She was walking behind Karma for the most time until he turned and waved for her to walk next to him, and she gladly obliged and jogged over.
…and I'm going for a ride
'Let me just hear it one more time...'
"I still want a taste of that grape juice though."
So...how was it? 8"3
I'm not entirely proud of some parts of this chapter, but I hope it was able to reach your expectations as readers! Was it too long? I'm sorry if it was and I'm sorry if I rushed things too much (that or made things way too slow). But I'm planning to finish this before school starts and it's quite long when I look at it and honestly I'm scared I might not. If there's any OOCness, don't hesitate to tell me.
PLEASE KEEP ME GOING I LIKE THIS STORY ;W;
Anyways, this arc was purely for your Karmanami feelings and some other things like some character development to open up to the next events. If anything, this feels more like a prologue. So by the next chapter, expect more characters!
Btw, anyone care to enlighten me about Karma's familial background? 8D
And for convenience's sake, NEXT CHAPTER PREVIEW!:
Clubs, more Friends, and the Troubles that Come with it.
What happens when Karma decides to shake things up and create a club of his own? What can Manami do to stop him from wrecking the entire school with his pranks and whimsical plans? Does she stop him? Or does she get sucked into them? Oh wow Rinka, Rio and Ryuunosuke finally make their debut! But who reaches out to who, Manami, or them? And who's Isura Mai? And what's that thing with her? Is that a pig or a baby bear? Wait so their dating...but their not? Mikagura-sensei's an otaku?!
FIND OUT MORE IN THE NEXT CHAPTER!