Hokusei University is located at the foot of a mountain in the suburbs of the lush green city of Hokusei.
It takes about 20 minutes by bus from the city’s terminal station. Most of the people who take this route are students, and the bus is crowded with young people in the mornings and evenings.
“I have a dull lecture.”
“I have a circle day today.”
“I want to exercise !”
The conversation in the train is very student-like.
On the other hand
“Did you really have sex with cheerleader Yukie !?”
“How was it?”
“She’s tight lol. I knew the athletic team would be tight lol”
I could hear the unbearable obscenities flowing in the background.
I’m sorry to interrupt your fun, but there are also female students on the bus, you know?
Ari san, who is sitting next to me, pretends not to hear it, but I’m sure she can hear, right?
She’s closing her eyes and pretending not to know, but even her ears are bright red.
It’s that time of the year when newcomers and other social gatherings are held all over the place. I understand that you are in an open mood, but you should be aware of where you are going.
There are people who come from girls’ schools and don’t have much experience with the opposite sex, or people who don’t like talking about the bottom of the barrel.
After such a bus commute, we arrived at Hokusei University. Today, since Ari san and I had a free morning class, we had lunch together and came to the campus.
It was date-like to have lunch with a girl and go to school together, but unfortunately, we had a very specific goal in mind.
“Kingo, let’s go !”
“W-wait a minute, Ari san ! What do you mean?”
Ari san got off at the bus stop and skipped lightly like a rabbit toward the school building. We’re going to meet someone now, but she can’t wait.
However, since it’s a surprise visit without an appointment, it might end up as an empty showdown. But I have some idea of the schedule.
I headed for the first of the two buildings of the Faculty of Art and Literature. This is the building that houses the laboratories and classrooms of the professors of the Faculty of Literature, the Faculty of Foreign Languages, and other language-related departments. As a member of the Faculty of Literature, I was very familiar with this building.
Before I proceeded to my destination room, everyone I passed was transfixed by Ari san.
She may not be aware of it, but she is quite conspicuous. She has become quite flamboyant since making her college debut, and her originally cute appearance inevitably catches the attention of boys.
And she was the freshman representative at the entrance ceremony. Thanks to this, she is a bit of a celebrity.
We arrived at one of the seminar rooms in the building. As the name implies, these are small classrooms where students study in seminars.
Ari san knocked and opened the door softly after hearing the answer from inside. This kind of politeness made me nod in agreement that she was a former student at a lady’s school.
It is now lunchtime and there is still time before the afternoon classes begin. Therefore, few students had gathered in the seminar room. Only one female student was inside.
Her long black hair was as deep as the black ink on the inkstone tin, her white skin reminded me of Japanese porcelain, and the way she carefully turned the pages of a paperback book with her fingers like a white fish was exactly like a young lady with a deep window.
She was the third tutor for Ari san.
As a sophomore, I was assigned to the same seminar as her this year, so I had a good idea when I would find her in the seminar room.
“Hello, Shino san ! Are you taking a break?”
“Hello, Ari chan. It’s been a while. Hello to you too, Kobayakawa kun. I just had lunch and was reading a book. It’s very unusual for you to come to the first building. What’s going on?”
“Ehehe, actually, I came to ask a favor for Shino san.”
Misumi senpai tilts her head. Ari san began with a big smile on her face, like a girl giving her mother a surprise birthday present.
“Shino san, please join my band and play the drums !”
“You’ll do it ! Thank you !”
“Calm down, Ari san. She’s not agreeing to it yet.”
There was a hell of a pause. Misumi senpai, you’re standing on a stick with your eyes dotted.
“Erm Ari chan? Is it a music band?”
“A-and by drums, do you mean drums and cymbals…..?”
Senpai put her index finger on her cheek, wrinkled her brow and groaned. It’s rare to see such a complicated expression on the normally relaxed Senpai’s face.
“W-why did you invite me? The last time I touched a musical instrument was in elementary school’s recorder class…”
“It’s because I want to be in a band with you, Shino san !”
Cheerful. That was the only reason Ari san had invited Senpai.
“We were together a lot during the entrance exam season, but we don’t see each other much after entering university. I feel lonely. But if we form a band, we’ll have more chances to see each other at practice, right !?”
“I miss you too, but if that’s the case, why don’t you just ask me and I’ll join you for lunch?”
“Hmm, I want to work with you, Shino san, not in such a fluffy relationship !”
Ari san was making an impassioned speech. The passion of the relationship surprised not only Senpai, but also me.
We’re in different departments and grades, so I don’t think we’ll have much contact in the future.
I could understand how Ari san felt as she spoke with straight eyes.
Unlike high school, university is a place where students are loosely connected to each other. It is not uncommon to find students in the same department who do not know each other’s names. And if you are in a different department, you are as good as a stranger.
In such an environment, relationships with others become increasingly tenuous. Whether it is a former friend or a tutor.
The only way to fight against this is to get together and meet people intentionally. The reason why she invited Misumi senpai was not only because she was in charge of drumming, but also because she wanted to deepen her relationship with her.
Senpai could easily understand her intention. Her eyes were filled with emotion, her lips curled into a straight line, and she was staring straight back into ARi san’s eyes.
Thus, Senpai’s reply was……
“Let me think about it…..for a while.”
It was vague.
Ari san’s eyes lowered with anxiety.
“Not that. It’s just…”
“I’m not sure. I have almost no experience with musical instruments, and I can’t read music notes.”
The reason for Senpai’s hesitation was her fear that she would not be able to play the drums.
Well, it was a normal concern for a person with no musical experience.
“Don’t worry ! I have only played the recorder, but I’m going to start playing the bass guitar. Kingo is going to teach me about music, so you should learn from him too !”
“From Kobayakawa kun?”
She glanced at me with a reserved look.
“I’m an experienced band member, so I’m going to give the band members some hands-on instruction. I’m not in charge of the drums, but I’m sure there are things I can teach you. And don’t be worried about not having any experience. Everyone starts out as a beginner.”
It’s not just me. Nobuhiko and Yua also started out as amateurs. But through repeated practice, they improved and became able to perform on stage. No one can do it from the beginning.
As a member of the group, I offered her a natural offer. But she looked straight into my eyes without losing her thoughtful expression.
I was afraid that I had misspoken.
There is a rumor that Misumi senpai is a man-hater. Not only is there no sign of a man in spite of her good looks, she also keeps her distance from male students in the seminar, and she is even bitter towards Yamashina and others.
I have been trying not to be too rude to her, because I knew that she must feel aversion to being looked at in a disgusting way. Thanks to this, I’m somewhat more open with her than with other boys.
However, the way I just said that may have been a little too familiar. I was worried that she might suspect me of having some ulterior motive.
“Well, if it was meddlesome, of course you can practice on your own…….”
“No, I don’t mean that. It’s a good opportunity to learn from someone with experience. I’m just worried that I won’t be able to practice enough and drag your feet…….”
Senpai looked down gloomily.
“I’m a third year student, so I have to start job hunting. In summer, I’ll have to participate in an internship……”
“Eh !? You’re going to start looking for a job as a third-year student !?”
Ari san’s eyes widened in surprise and she raised her voice. But for me, it’s not that surprising. Most students in their sophomore year and above participate in seminars hosted by the Career Center.
“That’s what job hunting is like nowadays, Ari san.”
“Gah. Goodbye my campus life…….”
You don’t have to look like it’s the end of the world.
I’m not sure if I’ll be able to manage my studies, job hunting, and band on my own. I’m sorry, but I’m going to turn it down. I’m already at that age.”
“No, your age hasn’t changed that much, has it? You don’t have to talk like an old people.”
Do you get old when you become busy as a third-year student?
“Muu〜. I really wanted to form a band with Shino san and Ryoko san in it!
“Ryoko san too?”
“Yes. But Ryoko san turned me down, so I want Shino san to join by all means. Maybe Ryoko-san will reconsider then. I know you’re busy with a lot of things, but if you’re even one percent sure you want to do it, will you consider it !?”
Ari san held Senpai’s hands and pleaded with a feverish gaze. Her wish was to reunite the four of us from the exam days. She had been disheartened by Ryoko’s refusal, but she still hadn’t given up.
Senpai gently closed her long-lashed eyelids and silently pondered. Eventually, Then,
“Please let me think about it for a while.”
She said sadly.
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