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Edited by RedPandaChick
In Koji's body, I approached Narumi. She was sitting by herself on a bench near the awards display, looking down at her phone.
I took a deep breath before talking. "Hello, Sae-san."
Her face instantly lit up. "Koji-kun! I didn't expect to see you here."
She really gets that happy when she sees Koji, huh? And what is she doing on her phone?
As soon as I tried to peek at her phone, she locked the screen.
"I already told you that's privacy invasion."
"Sorry. I was just walking around and saw you."
Her smile widened even more. "Sit with me," she said and moved aside on the bench.
Not knowing what else to do, I complied. I sat somewhat far from her on purpose, but she didn't care and moved closer. We were almost touching each other. My chest felt hot. What is she trying to do?
"It has been a while since we are alone," Narumi said. "What have you been up to?"
"Nothing much. I've been busy with the Club Fair preparations."
Being more confident in my knowledge about Koji, I was able to answer truthfully.
"You joined the Cooking Club, right? I didn't know you could cook."
"Then why did you join? Is it because of your parents?"
Oh? She doesn't know?
"Because I want to find what I'm good at."
"I can help you with that."
"We can help, too."
Suddenly, Narumi's friends arrived behind her; Oshiro, Kanna, and Riko. What do they want now?
"Mino, Kanna, Riko!" Narumi shouted.
"Sorry for interrupting, Sae-chan. We were just passing by when we heard that Araki-kun needed help. And we can't ignore that," Oshiro said.
What a coincidence, then…
"What do you need help with, Araki-kun?" she asked me.
Reluctant to reply, Narumi answered for me. "He wants to find what he's good at. That's why he joined the Cooking Club."
"Riko told me that he joined. I thought it was to follow in his parents' footsteps, but I guess I was wrong. You joined despite not having any cooking knowledge, willing to learn from zero whilst everyone else has been there for two years. I admire that," she smirked.
Wait. Is she…?
"It was a funny coincidence that you chose cooking, though. There are many other things you can try in the other clubs. The teachers won't let you use their stuff, but I can change their minds."
I doubt she has that much influence.
"Let's add each other so you can ask me for help directly."
She's definitely flirting!
"No, thanks," I replied.
"Hm?" she uttered in surprise and a bit of anger, but she quickly smiled again. "Come on, it will be easier. I swear I don't have bad intentions," she smiled, raising her open hand.
"If you don't have bad intentions, then why are you offering your help instead of giving the credit to Narumi? You know that she likes K-me, don't you? And why do you leave her alone?"
Kanna and Riko were shocked, whilst Oshiro wasn't happy at all. I didn't know where all that came from. I had to say it out loud or my chest was going to explode.
"That's not your business. Sae-chan knows why and that's what matters. Right, Sae-chan?"
Without hesitation, Narumi nodded and smiled.
What? Is she dumb?!
"You haven't answered—"
"Before we continue," Oshiro interrupted. "Why don't we say hello to the listeners over there?"
She turned around and looked directly at where Koji, Kawahara, and Tarō were standing. Tarō jumped to hide behind the wall, but Koji and Kawahara knew it was too late for that. Koji walked towards us, followed by Kawahara and Tarō.
"Suzuka? Kawahara? And Tarō? Why are you here?"
"Looks like we are not the only ones hiding stuff," Oshiro smirked.
I couldn't hold it anymore. My brows frowned on their own and my breathing raised. My own self was coming out in Koji's body.
Everyone stood in awkward silence. Koji and Kawahara showed their usual, dull expression, whilst Tarō was obviously nervous. No one knew how to continue. When out of nowhere, Narumi spoke with a drowned voice.
"I need to be alone."
She walked away with her head low, almost running.
Just like me, everyone seemed confused. Except for Oshiro, whose face couldn't show less interest.
"This is what happens when you hide things from her."
About to yell, Koji stood in front of me and extended his arm to stop me. He stared at me. His face didn't express anything, but I knew he was as angry as me.
"I don't have anything against you, Araki-kun. I know you're worried about her. But we are her friends, let us handle this."
Oshiro, Kanna, and Riko turned around to follow Narumi. However, not before saying one last thing.
"My offer is still up, by the way," Oshiro added, winking at me.
My teeth clenched. She's still flirting after what just happened? Why was she flirting, in the first place? She never seemed interested in Koji before. But before doing anything else…
"We should apologize," I said.
"I agree," Koji replied.
"I didn't expect this reaction. I must accept all the guilt," Kawahara said.
"This isn't a court, Kawahara. It was everyone's fault. Just tell her what you just said."
"Should I apologize as well?" Tarō asked.
"Everyone," Koji responded.
The bell chimed to indicate the end of the break.
"We'll have to wait for the opportunity," I said.
"Or we can tell her to meet with us," Koji suggested.
After deciding, we headed to our classrooms. Koji and I touched each other hoping the cooldown had run out, but we weren't lucky. We had to spend the rest of the afternoon with our bodies swapped.
Classes finished and it was time to head to our clubs. We took advantage of the five minutes we are allowed to take to walk our clubrooms and swapped back into our own bodies. It took longer than that, so I had to use an excuse.
I slid the door open. Natsuhiko-sensei was already there, helping one of the formed bands. She saw me standing at the door and approached me.
"Suzuka-san, you're late. Is everything okay?"
"I just had an upset stomach, but I'm fine now," I giggled.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," I nodded.
She smiled. "Good. Please join your band right away."
I closed the door and headed to where Tomoki-san, Narumi, and the drummer guy that joined us, were sitting. Since the space we had was extremely small, everyone was limited to what they could do to practice. If you played an instrument, it had to be on the lowest volume. Except for big instruments, like piano or drums, which couldn't be played at all. For that reason, every band was assigned a short time frame to practice in full on the Saturdays that remained before the fair. Still, it wasn't enough.
I sat between Tomoki-san and Narumi.
"Hello, Kozue-san. I hope your day went well," Tomoki-san greeted.
"Thanks. I hope yours did, too," I replied. "You too, Tetsuo-san."
"T-Thanks…" he responded.
He was very shy towards everyone, but he was kind and nice.
I looked at Narumi, who was staring down at her phone doing nothing. She was clearly upset.
"What do you want?"
"Let's meet after school. Behind the warehouse."
She looked at me for a brief moment before looking down again, not saying a word. I understood that as a yes.
Two hours later, club activities were done. Narumi left as soon as possible and I started to doubt that she was going to meet with us. I sent a message in the chat group to tell everyone to go behind the warehouse.
I ran into Tarō when I stepped out of the room. We walked together to the warehouse, where Koji and Kawahara were already waiting.
"Have you seen Narumi?" I asked.
Koji tilted his head, signaling towards the corner. "She has been waiting since we arrived."
We followed him behind the warehouse. Narumi was leaning against the wall, staring at the orange sky. We didn't plan anything, but it was better to let Koji speak first.
She looked at us, confused. "Why is everyone here?"
Koji bowed, so we did as well.
"We are sorry for spying on you and fighting with your friends."
After a moment of silence, Narumi replied, "First of all, please stop, this is too weird. Second, you're apologizing for the wrong reasons."
"Well, yes, you shouldn't have spied, but that's not why I'm upset."
"Why are you upset, then?" I asked.
"You lied to me to my face and played with my emotions," she answered. "Why were you in Koji's body, Suzuka? I assume Koji was involved since he watched us all the time."
So she realized…
"It was part of an experiment. You were our third subject," Kawahara responded.
"Kawahara! Just leave it to us," I said.
"Yes, we were experimenting with the swapping," Koji continued. "We all agreed to do it, so it was everyone's fault. We didn't think of how it was going to make you feel. Sorry."
Narumi stayed silent for a second. Then she smiled. "Since you're the one apologizing, I accept it."
"Maybe I overreacted a bit."
"No, you're totally right to react like that," Koji said.
"Okay, that's enough," I interrupted. "I'm glad everything was made clear. Time to leave."
"Fine. Have fun with your experimenting. I hope at least I was useful."
"Yes, you were a useful subject," I smirked.
After a quick glance, Narumi started to walk away. But I still wanted to tell her something.
"If it is about Mino, Kanna, and Riko, drop it. You don't have to meddle."
She is dumb.
Narumi left then we left after her.
We walked for twenty minutes to the park. As usual, it was already night. Koji and I sat together, whilst Kawahara and Tarō stood.
"Today was quite productive and eventful," Kawahara said. "We gathered useful data on the recordings and with the wristband app. It will take me a couple of days to make the report. However, I want to tell you about my new hypothesis."
"New?" Koji and I asked at the same time.
"That's correct. In it, I try to explain the weird delay that the cooldown is experiencing."
"And what is that explanation?" I asked.
"Every time you swap bodies, the cooldown increases. The time added is unknown, however. It could range from seconds all the way up to five minutes. We will need to experiment more to know for certain. But here comes my next point; we should avoid swapping bodies unless it is for a very specific experiment."
It was only logical, though it meant that it was going to take longer to find the solution. As much as it was disappointing for Koji and me, it probably was even more disappointing for Kawahara.
"Hi, hi," Hisa greeted.
"Hello!" Rem said.
"Hisa? Rem? Why are you here?" I asked. "Actually, how did you know we were here?"
"That's the way you greet your best friends?" Hisa smirked.
"Sorry," I giggled.
Suddenly, Hisa glanced at Koji for an instant. Hm?
"It was very obvious that you were here," Hisa said.
"What does that mean?"
"Doesn't matter. Su-chan, let's go home together."
"Sure… But we need to finish this session first."
"No worries, we'll wait," Rem replied.
"It has already ended," Kawahara said.
"What? Already?" I asked.
"There isn't anything left to do. We already experimented today."
"Right. I will leave first, then. Sorry for leaving you alone, Koji."
"We will wait with him until his chauffeur arrives," Tarō smiled.
"Thanks," I said.
Hisa, Rem, and I left towards the train station. They didn't talk about anything, which was something that had never happened before. We got onto the almost-empty train and sat together. It was obvious that they both were nervous. About what? They wouldn't tell me the reason. The only thing they said was that they wanted to have a sleepover that night. Still confused, I agreed.
When we arrived, we walked down the stairs of the station. Hisa's mom was waiting for us in her car. We drove to my house to get my stuff, then drove to Hisa's house. Once we arrived, Hisa's parents were very insistent that we have dinner. Hisa and Rem didn't seem keen about eating, but they complied in the end.
After half an hour of a lighthearted chat, we headed to Hisa's room. I placed my backpack on the floor and, when I turned around, Hisa and Rem were staring at me, more scared than worried.
"Hisa? Rem? Is everything okay?"
Taking a long pause, Rem replied, "We have to tell you something."
I was already somewhat nervous, but my heart kept racing the more time passed.
After a long and deep breath, Hisa approached me and confessed, "Rem and I have been together for a couple of years."
My heart skipped a beat. Their faces were painted white. They tried to look confident, but the fear was still visible.
"Eh? Together as in… together?"
"Together as in a couple."
"As girlfriend and girlfriend!" Hisa yelled. Rem instantly shushed her.
An awkward silence encompassed the room for a long while. My legs turned to jelly, forcing me to sit down on the bed.
"Eh? S-Since when? How? Why? What happened? Tell me everything!"
"You're not angry?" Rem asked.
"A bit because you were hiding it from me, but it doesn't matter now! I want to know everything. Every. Single. Detail."
They both sighed in relief and smiled. I could only imagine the amount of courage they had to gather to confess to me. I was a bit angry and disappointed, but my happiness for them overcame all of that.
We spent the next several hours talking about it and reminiscing about the old days.ns126.96.36.199da2