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The answer is clear

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The classroom feels empty without her. Even though she's just one person missing out of the while class, even though it's just like she's having another day of sick, even though it went unnoticed when she was off before they got to know each other- It feels wrong. Shintaro stares vacantly at the vase of (wilting) flowers on her desk and at the people crying (fake) tears for her, as if they were even close to her when she was around. It sickens him deeply. He knows they'll just forget about her in a few days anyway.

Sighing, he turns his head to look out of the window that's now not obscured by the body of his friend. The sky looks grey and dull, as if God himself has recognised the loss of this girl. But that's not true. If God (or whatever is out there controlling the world) is saddened by her death, then they wouldn't have even let it happen.

Everything and everyone is fake. Nobody truly cares- nobody but Shintaro.

The realist person Shintaro thought he knew was Ayano. To him, she seemed to always show how she really felt and speak what was on her mind. Only now does he realise that all the smiles were just in place to hide the fact that she was dying inside. She's probably six feet under by now, buried underneath a block of stone with her name, lifespan and some (stupid) heartfelt words engraved onto it. It's a shame, really, that someone like her- someone who Shintaro actually thought was an okay person- is gone and will soon be nothing more but the faint echo of a memory in the heads of his classmates.

Suddenly, the harsh sound of a book slapping against wood brings him out of his thoughts and directs his attention towards the teacher at the front. In just seconds, Shintaro's vision goes from a grey sky to a grey room full of grey people. The teacher at the front stares at all the students, a small frown on his wrinkled face, and opens his mouth to speak.

"Simmer down, class. I know that this horrible event must have affected you deeply and I, too, and terribly sad for our loss, but I'm afraid you're still here to learn. Please return to your seats and I'll start the lesson," The class can sense the sorrow in his voice.

The sound of chairs scraping across the floor and desks wobbling and shaking fills the air for a few moments before a deep (uncomfortable) silence envelops the room and Shintaro is finally given peace and quiet. The black haired boy can barely even register his voice being called out for registration, lost in a world of his own. A world where nobody cam harm him and nobody can get harmed. A simple (impossible) world.

"Sintaro? Shintaro Kisaragi?"

"Oh, y-yes sir."

He can see the teacher's frown deepen slightly at his quiet, barely audible mumble of a response, but doesn't ask about it, knowing that Shintaro was close to Ayano (no matter how much he denies it).

After that, he decides to just ignore out the voice of the teacher and the forever flowing tears of the students until they merge into a single, monotonous buzz. He lets his eyes fall shut, head rest atop his hands and breathes out a long sigh. It's nice like this, he believes, with the world blocked out completely.

Though as he keeps his eyes closed shut, images of her fill his mind. Smiling. Laughing. Studying. Making paper cranes. Helping people. Wrapping herself in her scarf. All these things she did and he watched... They won't happen anymore. They can't happen anymore. Even if all those smiles and positive emotions were feigned for everyone else, he still wants to see them. Because, Shintaro guesses, it's better for her to be there and faking her happiness than for her not to be there at all.

He stays there silently, unnoticed by the other students, for a good hour or two, until the sounds of chairs scraping once again fill the air. It's already break, he realises. Some people leave the room for a wonder around the halls or to go outside for some fresh air, whilst some stay there to keep talking about Ayano and saying their (meaningless) prayers to her. Out of nowhere, a girl starts crying and many of her classmates go to pat her on the back, hug her and tell her it'll be alright. But if they're truly friends With Ayano as they claim to be, why didn't they do that to her?! Why now, when she's gone, do they start to care?! It's unfair! They're all...

They're all fake friends... Just like him.

The realisation of it dawns upon him and Shintaro feels the weight of the world on his chest. He didn't notice her suffering. He didn't ever pay her near as much attention as he should have. He didn't comfort her when she got a bad mark or ever when her bloody mother died, for heavens sake! Perhaps it's his fault she flew out of the window by her desk.

He starts to feel trapped, scared. The walls feel like they're closing in on him and the sounds of everyone talking and crying intensify and fill his ears, leaving him no room to even think anymore. He tries to take long, calming breathes but they do nothing to ease his hammering chest. Sintaro stays like this for ages, his suffering going unnoticed by the others in the room who only now seem to care about Ayano and her parting. It's painful. It's dark. It's something he never wants to feel again.

His suffering continues for the rest of their break and only stops when the teacher re-enters the room and, once again, sends them to their seats. He's mostly gotten over it by now, but he can hear their voices still. He can feel their eyes on him, Ayano's true friend. Even though he knows they aren't, he still feels as though they're talking about him and blaming him for not being a good enough friend. He hates it. He needs to leave. He doesn't want to leave his room ever again. He doesn't want to-

"Shintaro Kisaragi? May I ask you why you're just staring off into space instead of reading out to me your score from last week?" That manages to snap him out of it.

As Shintaro looks down, he notices that his maths test from the week before has been placed on his desk, right in front of him. At the very top of the page in the right hand corner, lays his usual, stupid, worthless 100. Hands shaking violently, he reaches down to grasp the page and crumples it up into a tight ball.

"100%," He answers, gritting his teeth and keeping his eyes locked on that piece of (meaningless) paper. It was quiet and aggressive, so much so that the students next to him either didn't hear it or flinched at the sound.

"I'm sorry, Kisaragi, what was that?"

"I got a 100%, okay?!"

And that's when he breaks. With those words he knocks his chair backwards into the wall behind him and almost makes his desk bump into Ayano's. Not that it matters though, because she's not here to complain about it. He runs out of the room, completely ignoring the shouts if his teacher, and heads to the roof, tears threatening to build in his eyes.

100% is something complete- Something whole. And he's neither of those things. Not only has be lost Ayano, but his other two friends as well. He's lost so much throughout his life that 100% simply cannot be something used to describe him at all. Sure, he may be getting that (stupid) number on all his tests, but he can't get a 100% in life because he just isn't complete.

As soon as he gets to the roof, he collapses onto his knees, his body giving up on itself. Even here, far away from all his classmates- from anyone at all, for that matter- he still feels all of their (hateful, judging) eyes. Shintaro barely even registers that the (fake) grey sky still hangs over the world, letting rain fall down upon him.

For a while, he just stays there, staring down wards on his knees, letting his ebony hair become soaked with rain. A gust of wind followed by a light, shuffling sound catches his attention and he slowly let's his head raise upwards. And what greets him brings tiny tears to his eyes-

A paper crane drifts across the roof. A paper crane just like the ones Ayano had made.

Slowly, shaking slightly, Shintaro gets to his feet and shuffles towards to piece of drifting paper before him. He manages to catch it before it fell into one of the puddles that have firmed in the rain. Tentatively, he unfolds the delicate creases that came together to form the paper bird and sees what's inside of it. Just as he thought, it was a test. But not one of his which she would usually fold in a (stupid) attempt to cheer him up-no.

This test was one of hers. And in the very corner, written in that (cruel) red, is a 100% of her own.

The rain comes slowly to a halt and even though he manages to shield the paper from the rain, it still manages to get wet. He doesn't even realise he's crying until he notices a few of the answers getting smudged and blurred. Reaching up, he wipes away the first tears that have pooled in his eyes since long, long ago.

Funny, how the first 100% she ever got was from the exam given before she flew out from the window. He laughs lightly,- it comes out as more of a hollow, lifeless noise than the happy one that she would have longed to hear from him- noticing how the mark was written in the (now painful seeming) crimson that she adored ever so much. Shintaro wonders for a moment why she would always wear that scarf, but can't seem to find an answer. Sometimes, even for a genius like him, some answers just aren't clear.

"Hey, Ayano..." He starts, addressing the friend (If he can even dare call himself a friend of hers after all the times he never comforted her when she needed it) who he shall never see again, "...Even if the others do, no matter how old I get, I will remember you."

 

He just hopes she heard it.