He’s cold. Their house is always cold. It’s big and old and the insulation isn’t great, but that really shouldn’t matter because it’s summer. It should be warm. It isn’t, though.
Gakushuu sighs, setting down his pen and moving over to the radiator, holding his freezing fingers to the warmth of it. The heat is rushing out at full blast. It’s still cold. He doesn’t know why people think hell is all fire and heat, especially when this type of cold is the one that settles in your bones, creeping and unsettling, not enough to make you panic but enough to make you think you’re about to die from it. This type of cold is hell. Does this mean his house is hell?
If his house is hell, then his father must be the devil, right?
His phone rings. He picks up.
“Asano. They’re asking for another meeting, apparently the younger classes didn’t get enough say in the last one. I’ve checked your calendar, and Monday after school is empty for you, if you can skip your shower before the private tutoring with… that girl in our class with two mothers.”
“Saitou Keiko.” Gakushuu corrects, thinking it over. He hates skipping his afterschool shower, especially on a day like Monday. Mondays are always packed, constant requests for help flooding in that had built over the weekend. Every day is packed, truthfully. But Mondays are especially bad. “I’ll do it. Next time, make sure Tomoya doesn’t glare at them so much when they speak. I don’t want a repeat of this, Ren.”
“Sorry, Asano.” Ren hurries to say.
There’s a pause.
Gakushuu frowns, irritated. He has work to do, and Ren knows this perfectly well. “Anything else?”
“I know the secret.”
“What?!” Gakushuu shoots to his feet, grabbing his jacket from the back of the door and throwing it on haphazardly, fumbling around to shove away his things. “Shit. Meet me in the park. For god’s sake, Ren, be quick. Why didn’t you start with that?!”
“Relax, Gakushuu, I’ll be there.” He can practically hear Ren grinning over the phone, pride in every word. “It’s good. It’s really good. You’re going to be so-”
“Just be there.” He snaps, ending the call. With shaking hands, he grabs his bag and jogs out his room, heading down the stairs to the front door. His father should be out having a meeting. Gakushuu prays he is actually at that meeting. If not… things could get sour very rapidly.
“Gakushuu!” Their most recent housekeeper, possibly the most insolent one so far, sticks her head out of a nearby room. “Where are you off to? Do you need a lift?”
“I’m alright, Mrs Ito.” He rushes out, sticking on a smile that’s hopefully passable. “I’m having a last minute study session with some classmates. I’ll be back by seven.”
She hums, a mischievous smirk sliding onto her face. “Classmates, hm? Well, have fun. Buy her some nice flowers on the way.”
Gakushuu’s face falls flat, staring at her incredulously. “Mrs Ito. I am not dating anyone. You know this.” And even if he was, it certainly wouldn’t be a ‘her’.
“Whatever you say, Gakushuu!” She laughs, turning away to carry on her duties.
Gakushuu should really talk to his father about getting her fired.
Regardless, he should get moving. With one last glance up to the stairs, he steps out into the warm evening air, setting out down the street towards the park. It’s the most convenient place to meet at this time of year. Fairly empty, thanks to its secluded location, but near enough to his house and Ren’s apartment that neither of them attract suspicion.
As he walks, he tries to tame down his rumpled outfit. He can’t stop running possibilities through his head. The Secret of Class 3-E (Case SC3E, as he and his minions have begun calling it) has been plaguing his mind almost constantly. Not only is it clear that something incredibly shady is going on on top of that hill, but Gakushuu has absolutely no doubt that if he finds out what it is, he can take down his father once and for all. Two benefits, right? Being a good citizen and becoming his father’s master.
“Teppei? What are you doing here?” Gakushuu scowls as he sees the boy, peeking out from behind a tree. Pathetic. His supposedly intelligent underling came up with the ‘case’ part of Case SC3E, and has since tried to mimic the spy movies he loves so much. Including calling him ‘President’ instead of Asano every time they meet up like this.
“Ren told us we have a breakthrough in the case.” Teppei hisses, glancing around the completely empty park covertly. “He’s by the- the- the singing beauty’s trap.”
“Japanese, Teppei.” Gakushuu resists the urge to roll his eyes. He’ll have to put up with it for now. He’d rather suffer this than have Teppei run off to his father.
“The seat by the nightingale.” Teppei drops his voice even lower, and then, when Gakushuu only stares at him blankly, he sighs and straightens up, resuming his normal volume. “The bench over there. We talked about this! We have to have code names for our locations!”
“Leave the code names to Ren, for now. He’s our Japanese expert.” Gakushuu carefully maneuvers around him, heading over to the bench.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not just Ren sitting there. Nat is leaning against a tree beside him, a box in his hands, and a phone is propped up on the bench. Gakushuu leans down to look into it once he reaches them. “Tomoya.”
Tomoya glances up on the screen, sat in his room with his chest of drawers pushed up against the door. “Hey, assh...ano. Asano. I thought you were Teppei.”
“You know that being grounded doesn’t reflect well on the group, yes?”
“Yes. In my defense, my cousin was being a little shi...ngle.” Tomoya huffs,
Gakushuu shakes his head, straightening up. “We’re all here, unfortunately, so I suppose everyone will know now. Remember, anything said absolutely cannot go outside the five of us. Ever. Understood?”
They all nod solemnly, eager eyes focused on Ren.
“The secret. I’ve cracked the case.” Ren preens, lounging back against the bench, his slender figure perfectly positioned to give off an overwhelming stench of smugness. “No need to thank me, Asano, I’m just doing my job.”
Teppei snorts, settling himself on the other side of the phone. “You mean ‘we’. We cracked it. There’s no way you’ve found something out without all of the evidence the rest of us, especially me, have gathered.”
“Yes, yes, we’re all a wonderful team, Ren is so smart, yada yada!” Tomoya interrupts, leaning in close to the phone so his face is all they can see. “Get on with it! What is the secret?!”
“Class 3E are assassins!” Ren declares, right at the same time that Nat blurts out, “Their teacher blew up the moon!” They both stop and glare at each other.
...Assassins? Blowing up the moon? What?
“What?” Teppei repeats Gakushuu’s thoughts, face twisted in barely a fraction of the confusement Gakushuu feels. “Is this some sort of metaphor?”
“No!” Ren and Nat both cry. They stop, glaring again.
“What the hell are you two talking about then? You gonna explain or what?!” Tomoya’s forehead fills the screen.
Ren grabs a cinnamon roll from the box and stuffs it into Nat’s mouth. “Yes, I’ll explain. You remember the moon incident earlier this year? The creature that did it? It’s their teacher.”
Nat chews quickly, desperate to finish the food and butt in.
Their teacher? This makes absolutely no sense. “Start from the beginning.” Gakushuu orders, cutting short Tomoya’s growing outburst. “Tell us exactly how you found out.”
And so it began. By the middle part, Gakushuu was starting to regret his decision. He’d forgotten Ren had picked up his way of making things far more dramatic than they need to be. By the time they reached the end, Gakushuu was still none the wiser, but could accurately depict Ren’s emotional journey from start to finish.
“So, in conclusion…” Teppei frowns, thinking hard. “You planted a bug on one of the students and heard them talk about it to their friend.”
“Well, when you put it like that…”
“I thought that was illegal.”
“Shut up, Teppei! We got our answers, right?!”
“Tomoya, save that attitude for people who deserve it.” Gakushuu narrows his eyes, brain clicking and whirring. “Nat?”
Choking down the last of his baked monstrosity, Nat gasps for air, then releases his pent up words in a rush. “The government had to kill him somehow or he was gonna blow up our planet. They couldn’t kill him. He said he wanted to be 3E’s teacher. They thought it was their best chance, so put him there, and told the kids in the class to kill him by March. If they do, they get a shitton of money. Their words not mine, by the way. If they don’t, he’ll blow up the world by then. They’ve got another assassin and a guy from the military teaching them too. Oh, and they signed an NDA, so they can’t ask for help unless the government drags someone else in, which is why they were talking about all of this in the first place. Apparently, some are getting worried about whether they actually can ever pull this off or not.”
Silence. Gakushuu stares at Nat. Nat stares at Ren. Ren stares at Teppei. Teppei stares at the floor. No one stares at Tomoya, because they can only see his gaping mouth, and no one wants to stare at that.
Gakushuu wonders if he should stand closer to Teppei. The poor kid looks like he’s about to faint. Gakushuu thinks he might too, though, considering the fact that his brain has just refused to function.
“This is stupid. We can all agree this is stupid. Who thought this was a good idea?!” Tomoya eventually bursts out, his voice crackling over the speaker.
“I know, right?!” Nat gestures emphatically, almost spilling the food in his box. “We could do better than that! How is this the best the world-wide governments could come up with?!”
“We should replace the government. Just get rid of them.” Ren adds nonchalantly, as though he hadn’t heard the part about a planet-destroying creature teaching the stupid 3E kids, who have turned into their only chance to save the world. “Asano can take over. I’ll be his right-hand man. We can spread you three over the departments, as leaders. Then we wouldn’t end up with situations like… this.”
“That comes later, Ren, when we’re old enough.” Gakushuu says, moving his hand up to massage at his temples. “Ok. Ok. And you think they’re telling the truth? You don’t think they noticed the bug and decided to play a prank?”
“No.” Ren says confidently, unphased by the entire thing. “This lasted through the whole day. I heard them practicing to shoot. They talked to their teacher. They called him Koro-sensei.”
Very, very slowly, Teppei pulls out his notepad and pencil, flipping to a new page and starting to scribble notes. “Right. Supercreature… teaching... 3E. Assassination. March. Got it.”
“Hold up!” Tomoya’s eye appears. “You said they were practicing to shoot? So they have weapons?! They have- They have guns?!”
“Uh…” Nat turns a sickly pale. “I didn’t… think about that. They need it for assassination. But…”
Perfect. Absolutely ideal. No wonder the whole class became so cocky wandering around school and standing up to students. They were walking around with guns!
“We’re going to die.” Teppei whispers, then flops to the side. Luckily, Gakushuu had decided to move closer, and now catches him in a tangle of limbs. “Asano, Asano, tell my family I love them! I don’t want to die!”
“You won’t die, idiot.” Ren snorts, standing to help Gakushuu maneuver Teppei to sit on the bench. “They may be delinquents, and yeah, they might hate our guts, and yeah, some of them are violent, and yes, they’re training to kill people, and sure, they have people like Akabane and Terasaka, and yes, they might have threatened us in the library…” He trails off, horror dawning on his features. “We’re totally going to die.”
“I have a friend in America! They can take us in!” Tomoya yells desperately.
Automatically, the four of them reply in unison. “No one cares you went to America, Tomoya.”
“Actually, I care!” Teppei contradicts himself, scooting over to lean in front of the phone screen. “Get us all booked on a plane right now! We gotta go!”
“I can’t speak English!” Nat wails, sinking to the floor and clutching at his box of food. “What do I do?! I’m going to be abandoned here! They’re going to kill me, and none of you can do anything about it!”
“We won’t abandon you, my brother.” Ren declares gravely, grabbing Nat and shaking him by the shoulders. “If you’re going down, we all are. We shall die together. We shall die in each other’s arms! No homo.”
(“Yes homo.” Gakushuu mumbles under his breath.)
...Suffice to say, the group continued like this until a group of women decided to wander through the park. They took one look at the three of them, gathered in each other's arms, sobbing, with Tomoya yelling from the phone and Gakushuu having a silent mental breakdown to the side, and went right back the way they came. However, Teppei managed to spot them through a faceful of Nat’s food, and set about making a grand speech about how they had to be secretive in public. It was all very inspiring, Gakushuu was sure (he didn’t listen to a word of it).
Anyway, they all made their way back home eventually. Gakushuu managed to run the last few minutes to his house, arriving just as the seven o’clock bell chimed, and joined his father for yet another tense dinner. He kept sneaking glances over the table, wondering exactly what he had claimed from the government from this arrangement, and whether he cared that a class of children were being taught to kill someone.
Probably not, knowing his father.