I’ve borrowed some chairs for a one-on-one interview with the new teacher. New chairs will arrive tomorrow. - Yokoshima-sensei
Both Hagimura and I seemed to have the same thought once we had read the note pinned to a small pile of scrap wood in front of the student council room.
“What did she even do to break them like this…?”
“Don’t think about it.”
As I locked up the classroom behind me, I’d noticed all the other rooms had been locked already. I didn’t mind staying behind, as I had student council duties to attend to as well, but it had gotten much later than I thought it would. I was perhaps lucky that Suzu had been my partner, preventing any further delays.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Hagimura lead the way into the room. Aria and the President sat awaiting us, idly chatting away as they awaited our arrival.
Looking over at the table, I noticed one of the seats that had been taken had been mine. After a moment’s silence for a fallen comrade, I quickly dragged over the chair we occasionally propped the door open with: it had a fairly large crack in one of the legs and sat unevenly, but it would be fine for one meeting as long as I didn’t put too much weight on the back legs. With it being quite late, the meeting ought to be quick as well, but that wasn’t likely with the ease that the student council could go off-topic.
As soon as the President had noticed us, she looked relieved. “Aha, Tsuda. There you are. Do you wear boxers or briefs?”
Being part of Ousai’s student council had prepared me for the constant stream of R-rated jokes and debate that was the main means of communication between my two upperclassmen. But sometimes, their sheer bluntness still took me by surprise.
As I stammered, delaying my answer temporarily, I tried to take care with what I said, but noticed all three sets of eyes upon me. After a few moments longer, I gave in and sighed, “Boxers…”
At my response, the President furrowed her brow, looking more than a little disappointed. “Hmm, I thought you’d like briefs because they’re restricting… like bondage.”
“That’s way too restricting…” I retorted, but before I could get another word in, Aria delivered the second blow.
“It’s okay, Shino. I can understand. Boxers allow men to feel like they’re going commando.”
“That’s not it, either.”
Seemingly sensing my discomfort, or more likely, the lack of action, Hagimura interrupted the back-and-forth between Aria, Shino and I, getting us back on track with an exaggerated cough.
As we proceeded around the table, I used the seat I had brought over and set it in my normal spot. As I sat down, it took me a moment to realise Hagimura was, in fact, not seated. Or more specifically, had nothing to sit on.
“A-are you okay? Do you want me to get another chair?” I asked, seeing her frustration at not being tall enough able to lean comfortably on the table.
On her tiptoes, and trying to look composed, she replied through a strained smile, “N-No, I’m fine l-like this!” After a few more moments of struggle, she gave up with a
sigh. “Fine, I’ll just get another chair…”
“Haven’t all the classrooms been locked, though?” Aria said, “And Yokoshima-sensei is also using our spare chairs.” Hagimura looked a little distressed at the news, and the others seemed to notice. A synchronised sigh of thought sounded around the table, and after a few moments, I had somewhat of an idea.
“Here, you can use mine. I’ll be fine kneeling.” Without even thinking about what I said, a sudden look of mischievousness appeared on the President’s face, yet before she could say anything, Hagimura spoke up.
“No, you’ll hurt your knees if you do that. We could…” Suzu said, before trailing off and finishing with a quiet, “never mind.”
“Hmm? What were you going to say?”
“I think Hagimura was going to ask if Tsuda could be her chair.”
At Aria’s interruption, both Hagimura and I responded with a loud “Eh?!” Shino looked like she understood perfectly though. She suddenly stood up and span round, marker pen in hand as she began to draw a diagram of one stick figure sitting on top of another on the massive whiteboard that always sat behind her. “I see. But how was she going to sit on him? Was she going to sit on his back? He’d still be too low…”
“That’s not the problem” I responded, reluctantly accepting that the meeting never even had a chance of finishing quickly.
Aria, too, made her way over to the white board and began illustrating her idea, opting to not use stick figures and instead drew a few fairly realistic caricatures of Hagimura and I. “I suppose she could use his shoulders, whilst he sat on the floor” Aria thought aloud, seemingly considering this very seriously as she drew a rough sketch of me sitting on the floor.
“That’s impractical,” I mused, head in my hands, knowing that they were lost in their own world.
“Ah, I suppose so. Tsuda couldn’t talk with his mouth covered like that…” Curious, I looked up at the drawing that had been made by Aria. Instead of the position I thought I’d see, the crude sketch of Suzu was faced the opposite way, with her skirt fully covering my head.
A loud gasp could be heard as blushing Hagimura also saw the drawing. “No! That’s wrong! That’s really wrong!” She also very quickly ran to the board, and frantically jumped as she tried to rub the crude image off. She managed to remove the seated picture of me and most of herself, but she wasn’t able to reach her caricature’s face, which had a rather lewd expression and speech bubble attached that was currently making the both of all but the illustrator blush with the vulgarity.
Aria, not phased in the slightest, continued the suggestions, “If that’s not right, he’d probably enjoy it if you sat on his fac-“
“I’ll just sit on his lap!” Panting a little bit as she caught her breath from the impromptu jumping exercise, she had shouted quite loudly. Realising that they may have gone a little too far with that one, the silence wasn’t broken until Hagimura recovered her breath.
“It’s fine. I’ll just sit on his lap. I-it’s not like I have a choice or anything.” As she approached me, I noticed she was trying to avoid eye contact and, whether it was just the exercise of jumping or the embarrassment, her face was slightly red. “D-do you mind, T-Tsuda?”
Taken aback with the question, I snapped back to reality with a nod, and shuffled backwards in my seat but even then, she was left with very little space to sit on. Quickly, she turned and sat in the space, awkwardly shuffling as she tried to stay balanced on the edge of the seat, but as hard as she tried, I could see it wasn’t comfortable and she was leaning against the space, rather than sitting.
After a few seconds, it became too much to watch her hide it. In perhaps a lapse of judgement, I lifted her under her arms, to which she seized up from the unexpected contact, but soon she left herself dangling from my grip, body limp in defeat. Quickly adjusting my own legs to make my lap bigger, I lowered her down on top of my legs. I couldn’t see her face, but from the small adjustments she made, it seemed as though she had begrudgingly accepted what had happened.
Suzu, who was currently staring at the president, prompting her to begin the meeting, seemed happy enough to get on with meeting and forget everything that had just happened. My own thoughts, however, wandered. Although it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, she had been incredibly light when I had lifted her, and the small pout combined with the pinkness of her face, was childish, but it had also been quite cute.
As I daydreamed, Suzu continued to shift further and further backwards on my lap, seemingly unable to settle in one position. The constant movement did little to focus my mind, until I began to notice a fairly unintended consequence to her actions. At the same time, her shuffling had stopped as if she had noticed it as well. I froze, afraid to move at all lest the situation got any more awkward.
Perhaps out of sheer luck or just plot convenience, someone had decided to knock at the door, interrupting the meeting and my daydreaming. Hata took this moment to stick her head through the door frame and, in her uniquely monotonous voice, announced her intensions.
“Ah, good evening. I hope I haven’t interrupted you. I couldn’t help but overhear that you are looking to- oh, so finally decided to take the next step. Congratulations.”
Initially, I had been unsure of what she meant, but noticing her thumbs up and gazing directed at me, I began to get a pretty good idea of what she was talking about. I immediately looked to Suzu, who seemed to be shying away from the question, so I was the one made to blurt out a quick denial of the situation.
“No, no! It isn’t what it looks like. We just don’t have any spare chairs,” I replied, maybe a little louder than was necessary. Surprisingly, Hata just seemed to accept it.
“Hmm, yes, I understand. No spare chairs. If that’s it, I suppose there’s nothing more to it. No. Nothing more to it than that.” Fist in palm and eyes closed, she just seemed to be nodding, “Well, if that’s the case can I speak to the Pres and Aria outside then. Just for a moment, it shouldn’t be too long.” The way she’d said it, I wasn’t entirely sure if she was being sarcastic, but with her constant monotone, it was always hard to tell anything.
“Aww, but I wanted to see if they’d starting doing it!” Shino, looking quite frustrated, sat arms folded, refusing to move, as Aria walked behind her, whispering something in her ear. Quickly, her frown disappeared as she glanced quickly at Suzu and I then responded to whatever Aria was saying to her, “Are you sure? You promise? Okay. ”
The pair stood up, with Shino quickly peering at us as she walked past and out the door with Hata. Aria, the last to leave, she stopping briefly in the doorway to talk, “We’ll just be a minute. I’m sure that’s all Tsuda will need. Have fun.”
She span around, closing the door behind her, leaving me confused. A minute is all I’d need? I looked to Suzu for an answers, who had been looking downwards, face still red. Unaware I was looking at her, she turned her head and our eyes met for a moment before she turned back to looking at the table in front of her, even redder.
The both of us were silenced by the awkward situation we were in. I began staring at every little thing in the room that wasn’t Hagimura, and she began twiddling her thumbs, gazing through the table in front of her. Neither of us wanted to say a word, to escape making the problem any worse, but it didn’t take long to cave in.
Having both gone at the same time, we both stopped to let the other speak, only making the silence worse. Seeing the inevitability and bleakness of the scene we found ourselves in, Hagimura took the opportunity to start.
“I’m sorry, Tsuda. This is my fault,” she muttered, hunched over and receding into herself. I was a little taken aback by her words, and not for the reasons I usually were in the student council room. Sensing her discomfort, I placed a hand on her shoulder as reassurance. Like before, she tensed up when I touched her, but this time, she almost pushed a little into my hand, as if I was going to take it away any second now.
“It’s definitely not your fault, Hagimura. If anything, I should have just given you mine.” I know I had technically offer her mine before, but had I insisted, I’m sure she have taken it, and we wouldn’t be where we are now, although I wouldn’t really have any complaints if it weren’t for the uncomfortable atmosphere. Suzu had made to speak again, but instead, sighed, leaning backwards into my chest.
The few words we shared hadn’t really brought about a conversation, but it had lightened the mood a little. At least, Suzu seemed more relaxed. I, however, was distracted by the increasingly loud creaking coming from under us. The floorboards in the council room had rarely creaked. I couldn’t think of much else, through the proximity of another body certainly wasn’t helping my thought process.
“T-Tsuda…?” Suzu said, interrupting my daydreaming, “Thank you.” For perhaps, the first time for the entire meeting, Suzu was facing me, even if she was avoiding eye contact.
“For letting me… y’know. Sit on your lap.”
“Oh. It’s no problem.”
“It is. You’re always helping us out, even after we dragged you into the student council forcibly.” Suzu had returned to facing forward, sitting up straight, and I could tell by her tone, she had an expression of determination for some reason. “Aria is always making jokes at your expense. Shino misunderstandings everything, making it weird. And I… I’m no different.”
With that, she leant back, causing an aggressive shriek from the chair; one that Suzu seemed to ignore, focused on what she was saying. “Tsuda, you’re always putting up with me and helping me out and generally being nice to me, and I think… Tsuda, I think I-”
Within the pause, Suzu had turned to face me, and that had been the last straw in the chair seating us both. The previous crack had expanded all the way through the leg, leading it to break off, and the chair fell backwards. In the moment we were falling back, I saw Suzu’s eyes widen as she falling on top of me. As we hit the ground, I hit my head and blacked out for a moment.
Concussed, my head felt like it was going to be crushed, and I was finding it hard to breath. I tried opening my eyes, but all I could see was darkness, but in that darkness, I could hear a door opening, and then a large gasp.
“Aria! You told me they’d wait!”
The voice of the president sounded around the room. I still couldn’t tell what was going on around me but I could tell something was pinning me to the floor, or at least, it was pinning my head to the floor.
“Shino, what do you- Oh, so they took my advice. I knew Suzu wanted to sit on-“
Obviously, Aria had returned to survey the situation, but her comment was drowned out by Hagimura’s groans.
“Tsuda, what happened? We fell back and then- Eh? T-Tsuda?! W-w-w-what are you d-d-doing? I-I-I’vegottogosomething!”
Honestly, I didn’t know the answer to that question because I couldn’t tell. Suddenly, a bright light hit and I had to blink a few times for my eyes to regain focus. When they did, all I could see was Aria looking down at me, both smiling and providing me with a thumbs up.
“Tsuda. Good Job.”
“What happened? Is Suzu okay?”
“Yep, she was fine. I think she needed to go conduct a ‘lab’ experiment.”
I still wasn’t sure what had happened and that last part Aria had said I wasn’t so sure about but at least Hagimura was okay. Sitting up, I noticed that Shino was still in the doorway, a hint of blush on her cheeks. As I did, Aria began to speak.
“So I think that concludes the meeting for today. President, if you will.”
“O-oh yeah, Student Council Meeting adjourned. Bye, Tsuda.” Leaving fairly quickly, it was a little odd to see Shino acting scatty, but I put it down to everything that had happened. I know I’d had a long day. Aria, at least, seemed to be acting pretty normal.
“Goodbye, Tsuda. Have a good evening. Oh, and don’t stay up all night. We’ve got an early morning tomorrow. See you at school!”
With almost a skip in her step, Aria left the room. Forgot what I said about normal. That was entirely a bit suspicious. Curious, I tried to think of what just may have occurred, that may have had everyone acting so mysterious. Perhaps I should have known better than to question the antics of this student council, realising that there was usually very little to understand.
As I stood up, dusting myself off, I stopped thinking about it and thought about something else I had thought odd.
“Wait, why did Aria think I was going to stay up all night?"