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https://kakuyomu.jp/works/16817330662545387095/episodes/16817330667569488373

The party is at an all-time high.

Just as the boys’ loud laughter was rolling over there, the high-pitched laughter of the girls was echoing over here.

Silk Road is a fairly large circle at Hokusei University. As the name [Travel Circle] suggests, traveling is the centerpiece of its activities, but it is usually a [drinking circle] that gets together for any reason and holds drinking parties.

There is no shortage of gatherings, such as the New Year Party in April, the Golden Week Party in May, and the Test Party in July.

The April New Year’s Party is especially exciting because it is a gathering place for people who like to be merry. The executives are eager to gather as many members as possible.

I was walking around the new members’ party hall with my eyes wandering around. Where is that girl I’m looking for?

“Kanda san, come here !”

“Ryoko chan, let’s have a drink together !”

Faces I knew, faces I didn’t even know their names. I waved my hand apologetically to those who accepted me and kept looking for her.

Then I noticed an unusually hot seat. Among the small group of all boys, one petite girl looked a little troubled and was responding to a succession of questions and topics.

That girl was Azekura Ari chan. She is a charming junior with a small face and big, round eyes. When she’s that cute, boys can’t leave her alone, can they? But don’t you guys realize that Ari chan is in trouble?

“Ari chan !”

I walked up behind Ari chan and put my hand on her shoulder. She jerked her little shoulders and turned around to look at me.

“Ryoko san !?”

“It’s been a while ! Do you have a minute? There’s someone I want to introduce you to.”

“Ah, yes ! I’m fine…….”

Ari chan looked around at the boys in the room with a puzzled look on her face. I guess she feels bad for leaving in the middle of the conversation.. How very well behaved of her.

The boys stared at me as if I had been hit with a peashooter by a pigeon. I was embarrassed to have them stare at me so passionately.

Well, anyway,

“I’m going to borrow Ari chan, is that okay?”

I send a sales smile to the guys who are flocking to the cute first-year student. They blushed and nodded their heads like toys.

“So let’s go, Ari chan.”

“Y-yes !”

Ari chan said to the guys, got up, put on her shoes, and walked out right next to her. The men quieted down as if the fire had been extinguished and began chipping away at their hors d’oeuvres.

“Ryoko san. Who is it that you want to introduce?”

“That’s a lie. I just wanted to take Ari chan out and talk to her alone. I also felt tired of being surrounded. Did I bother you?”

“No, thank you very much for helping me ! I’m happy that you’re helping me, but I’m really tired. I’m not used to talking to a lot of boys.”

“That’s not surprising. How do you feel about having guys around?”

“E-even if you ask me…… I’m nervous that I might come across as rough?”

“Rough?”

I tilt my head at the unexpected answer. As far as I remember, I don’t see any such rough side in Ari chan.

“Girls’ schools tend to have an image of being classy, ​​but because there are no boys, they tend to be relaxed and a bit clunky.”

“Hmmm.”

I see, so in an all-girls school, there are no guys, so they don’t have to worry about looking good or being chaste. And they are worried that their appearance will be exposed if they let their guard down. Come to think of it, I heard something similar from Haruna, an alumni at Atago Girls’ School. But the answer was a bit oblique.

“I can usually see underwear in the hallways and on the stairs.”

I wonder if that is indeed true……. I mean, there are male teachers at Atago, aren’t there?

I decided to sit somewhere for the time being, since I didn’t want to stand around and talk. We grabbed a drink from the appropriate cooler box and sat down on a bench a little further away from the first level.

“Cheers.”

“Yes, cheers !”

We toasted with cola and ginger ale. The dry ginger flavor fills my mouth with satisfaction. But…..

“Haa……I want to drink some alcohol.”

Soft drink is not enough.

“Ryoko san, you are underage, right?”

“I’m nineteen, so I’m an adult.”

“You are not of legal drinking age, are you?”

“Well, I guess so.”

The world is a messy place. The age of adulthood has been lowered, responsibilities have increased, and yet we are not allowed to drink alcohol. On the contrary, the situation is becoming more and more difficult.

In the old days on the Silk Road, it was common for first-year students to drink, but in keeping with the prevailing trends, drinking under the age of 20 is now outlawed. The participants are required to have their age verified, and colored tape is placed on their chests to determine whether they can drink or not.

Those who can drink are taped in blue, and those who cannot or do not want to drink are taped in red. Ari chan and I have red tape on our chests.

“So, congratulations again on your new school entrance.”

“Thank you very much ! It’s thanks to Ryoko san and the others who helped me with my studies !”

“Ari chan, it’s thanks to your hard study every day. You did really well.”

Twice she had faced adversity that made her feel like giving up. But she never gave up, thanks to the strength of her heart.

“I’m sure that your college life will be as enjoyable as your hard work. I hope you have a fulfilling four years.”

I had intended to send her unintended compliments and encouragement. But I seemed to be unconsciously trying to distance myself from her. The fact that I did not say, [Let’s spend time together] was a solid proof.

I guess Ari chan sensed this. Her eyes widened and she looked sad for a moment. But then, a moment later,

“Ryoko san, I’ll ask you again. Would you like to be in a band with me?”

She asked the same question as that day.

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