As Alisa opened the door to the apartment and called out, reaching inside, her older sister, Mariya, showed up from the living room. In contrast to the basically expressionless Alisa, Mariya basically had a smile almost all the time.
She smiled, even now, as if she was scattering soft-looking flowers while she delightfully greeted her younger sister.
“Welcome baack~, Alya-chan”
With a whole-faced smile she spread both of her arms and approached her and– right, left, right, she did kiss cheeks in that order and as a conclusion, she hugged Alisa tightly.
If it were to be said, this was an image that girls love fanatics (pigs) of the world would be delighted to see.
“I’m back, Masha”
To separate from her older sister’s passionate hug, Alisa tapped the arm of her older sister. Then, Mariya who had been having a warm smile until now, puffed up her cheeks as she separated from her body.
“Geez, I did tell you to call me ‘onee-chan’ when in Japan didn’t I”
“Don’t want to. Too late for that”
Towards Alisa’s cold response, Mariya’s puffed-up cheeks swelled even more.
From the start, in Russian language, there were no special names for an older brother or older sister such as “onee-chan” or “ni-san” like in the Japanese language.
Whether it’s your older sister or older brother, they would basically be called by their name. Alisa, who was born Russian, also followed suit and called her older sister by her nickname but Mariya seemed to like being called “onee-chan”, and had demanded Alisa to call her like that again and again.
“Uuu…. Alya-chan so cold….”
As soon as she saw that her dissatisfied expression wasn’t working, Mariya instantly had a miserable look and Alisa looked at her with an astounded look. This was not the first time that this had happened but, whenever her older sister gave her this kind of look, she felt like she’d done something bad.
However, no matter what was said, she felt resistant towards the way of calling with “onee-chan”. By nature, they were a younger sister with firm character and an easy-going older sister.
Alisa was taller than her and their ages were only one year apart. Since the olden days, there were lots of times where Alisa had to look after Mariya.
Hence, Alisa’s own awareness towards Mariya as an “older sister” was weak.
(In the first place, the way of calling with “onee-chan” itself sounds like behaving like a spoiled child)
If it was at least “nee-san”, she might’ve still considered it but, since Mariya said “I don’t want that”, it was unavoidable.
Deciding not to worry about it anymore, she took off her shoes and changed into her slippers, and Mariya blinked her eyes and tilted her head.
“….Alya-chan, are you in bad mood?”
Alisa immediately showed a dubious look to hide her inner turmoil. However, it seemed that such deceptions didn’t work on this older sister.
“That reaction… as expected, was it that guy? Did something happen with Kuze-kun?”
As soon as Mariya showed eyes sparkling with curiosity, Alisa headed for the bathroom while feeling fed-up.
“There’s nothing happening”
“That’s a lie, you can’t deceive onee-chan. Hey hey, what happened?”
Even after that, Mariya obstinately followed Alisa around like a duckling and kept asking her questions.
Alisa gave up when they finally got into her room. Still in her uniform she sat down on a chair and Mariya, pestering Alisa to talk, flopped down on top of a cushion spread out on the floor. As if it’s troublesome, Alisa opened her mouth.
“Really, it’s no big deal…. We just got into a little fight”
“Hee~~~ a fight!”
Thinking normally, it’s not a word to speak highly of but, Mariya’s eyes sparkled for some reason, seeming joyful.
“I mean… fufuu, to think Arya-chan got into a fight, it’s really unusual isn’t it. And it’s with that guy even”
“I see~, a guy who can move Alya-chan’s heart finally appeared, huh”
“What are you talking about”
Alisa frowned towards Mariya’s somewhat meaningful way of saying. Then Mariya said with a know-it-all air.
“You like him, don’t you? That Kuze-kun”
When Alisa thrusted her unreserved gaze to Mariya’s face as if to say “What’s this flower garden for brains talking about”, Mariya shook her head saying, “Good grief”.
“I don’t know if you’re misunderstanding something but… we aren’t like that. We aren’t, that’s right…”
The scene from yesterday’s lunch break was brought back inside Alisa’s mind. The wondering look, the face of Masachike saying friend was.
“That’s right… We are, friends”
Alisa smiled while reminiscing that memory and declared that somewhat proudly. At Alisa’s face that seemed to say “How’s that”, Mariya’s eyes became gentle.
“Fuuu~n, I see…. But, how did you become friends? Alya-chan, don’t you hate people who are slovenly or not serious?”
Mariya’s words were correct. And Masachika was usually not motivated and slovenly…. That’s exactly the kind of person Alisa hated.
And why she had accepted such Masachika as her friend. Alisa thought back to the memory of the past, which was the starting point of this.
【The excellence award in the group presentation goes to….B team!】
The sound of applause filled the classroom. Among them there’s only one person, a young girl who bit her lips and hung her head down.
Alisa, a fourth grader in elementary school at the time. It was at a certain elementary school in Vladivostok, Russia.
At this time, Alisa had realized that she herself was different from the people around her.
The impetus for that was… a group research presentation done in class.
The students in class were divided into groups of four or five. They would spend two weeks researching about a topic, and put together the contents they researched on a big paper then present it.
The topic Alisa’s group presented was, 『Jobs in the Area』. They interviewed the stores in the neighborhood and family members about their jobs to find out what they did in their jobs. It was a trifling, elementary school-like topic.
However, no matter the content, Alisa didn’t cut any corners.
Alisa’s competitive spirit was already strong these days. For Alisa, who had always aimed to be the best at everything she did, it was just a matter of course to be the best at the presentation–to win the excellence award.
And then, Alisa did her best to win the excellence award.
Everyday after school, she conducted a series of interviews at the stores in the area assigned to her until it was dinner time. What she researched in one week was enough to fill up an entire notebook.
However, she had expected perfectness on the day of the meeting with the group.
Alisa was astonished by the words of the three members in the group.
【Ah. My bad. I haven’t done my research】
【This here is a bakery, and here is a clothing store. Eh? The content of their work? Of course, if it’s a bakery they’re selling bread, and if it’s a clothing store, they’re selling clothes right】
【Sorry, I’m only half-way through my research~. But, there’s still a week left anyway. I’m sure it’s gonna be fine】
Too much…. From Alisa’s view that was too much of a lazy research.
Even if all of the information the other three had researched was combined, it was not even half of the information Alisa had researched.
That’s the reality. But most of all, in spite of all this, to the three of them who showed no sign of hurrying or apologizing, Alisa was taken aback and beyond angry.
It was when the three of them looked at the notebook Alisa had put together that her anger bursted up.
【Whoah, what is this. Just how serious are you about this】
【So detailed. Surely we wouldn’t use all of it, don’t you think】
【Alya… Is it okay to not read, all of this?】
The three of them turned to each other, with eyes seeming surprised. They forced a smile as if to say “Aa~aah, she’s done it”.
(Eh? Is this, my fault?)
Right after such doubt crossed her mind, anger welled up from the bottom of Alisa’s stomach.
No, it’s not my fault. I just… worked seriously to the best of my ability on the task given to me.
I wasn’t wrong . They are the ones who are wrong.
Her anger and revulsion bursted up Instantaneously. Alisa was still too young to suppress them.
【Hey, why aren’t you doing this seriously?】
Her eyes were glaring. The emotional elementary students reacted sensitively to the sharp words that were spoken in a reproachful tone.
From there it didn’t take long for a heated argument to break out.
The teacher immediately intervened because they were in class but, during that short time cracks appeared between Alisa and the other three members, making it impossible for them to work together.
【If you don’t like it so much, go do it yourself!!】
A tit for tat. Words thrown by one of the boys in the group made Alisa stubborn.
Then, for the rest of the time, Alisa tried to bring the contents of her presentation up to the level she was comfortable with as much as possible.
However, there was a limit to what a single person could do and the resulting presentation was no wehere near the level Alisa had aimed for. As a result, the excellence award Alisa was aiming for went to another group.
Alisa couldn’t understand it.
The classmates who didn’t take their given tasks seriously. Them who didn’t feel anything about losing and were laughing foolishly.
(If only everyone took it as seriously as I did, we would’ve never lost. No, if I was on my own from the start, I would’ve won for sure!)
I’m different from everyone else. I’m the only one who is serious, and I’m the only one who took this seriously. I was seriously thinking of winning.
When she realized this, Alisa stopped expecting others to do the same.
No one can keep up with my level anyway. They don’t take it as seriously as I do, with the same amount of seriousness.
Then they can do whatever they want. I will never be defeated by those who lack the effort and motivation. While you guys are playing around, I’m going to be above everyone else.
I don’t need cooperation with others. I’ll do it all myself. On the contrary it’s bothersome dealing with half-hearted resolution or just a sense of duty.
Even as she grew older, and acquired social skills to some extent, that fundamental idea of Alisa’s remained unchanged. No, if anything, it became stronger every year.
The lack of motivation from her classmates, the disappointment in others that was built up everytime she realized how low their level was, before she noticed, turned into an unconscious condescension towards the people around her.
Once she was aware of this, in order to avoid conflict with those around her, Alisa started to draw a line in regards to dealing with others.
Truly aloof. She had the talent and competitive spirit that set her apart from others. Hence her aloofness.
In her third year of junior high school, Alisa returned to Japan because of her father’s work.
Due to her parents’ recommendation, she transferred to Seirei Educational Institute. A prestigious school that was considered to be one of the best in Japan. If it’s here, perhaps there could be someone who could compete shoulder-to-shoulder with her and at the same time, someone who could accompany her in her devotion in her study. Alisa had a faint expectation.
However, Alisa’s faint expectation was cruelly betrayed when she took a proficiency test right after transferring.
First place in her school year. In Japan again after being away for 5 years. A transfer student who didn’t know the test trends. Even with this disadvantage, she was first place in her school year.
(I guess this place’s level is also only to that extent, huh)
Even here, in the end I’m alone, aren’t I.
Just when such resignation was about to fill her heart, Alisa found out about him. Their first encounter was on the first day she transferred. The morning of April 1st.
“Kujou-san, your Japanese is really good, isn’t it. Have you lived in Japan before?”
“Wow, it’s really pretty. It’s my first time seeing silver hair”
“Hey hey, did you really easily pass that super difficult transfer exam test?”
Her classmates flocked to her with open curiosity. Alisa was a little fed up inside but, she tried not to be too rude and just dealt with them accordingly.
As a person who looked down on those around her, being close to someone was not good for either of them.
It would offend the other party, and even she herself would feel the same if she found herself in that situation.
That’s why she was not going to get close to anyone here either.
“Aah, it’s the bell”
“Huh, already? Can’t be helped. Then see you later, Kujou-san”
“I’d like to hear your story in the next break too, okay”
After seeing off her classmates regrettably returning to their seats, Alisa looked to the seat in the neighboring seat.
There, despite all the fuss happening, she saw the figure of a male student, plopped down on his desk, not bothered by it in the slightest.
Alisa’s curiosity was more than a little piqued by this overly free spirit. Before she noticed, she found herself shaking his shoulder lightly, and talked to that classmate for the first time.
“Ermm… the bell already rang, you know?”
He raised his head at the sound of Alisa’s voice. He was a male student with an ordinary appearance and slovenly face.
“Aaah~~ Are you the transfer student who gave a greeting at the opening ceremony?”
“Yes, Alisa Mikhailovna Kujou. Nice to meet you”
“Yeah… I’m Kuze Masachika. Likewise”
After saying that much, Masachika turned to the front and stretched out one go. And then, with a look of realization on his face, he poked the back of the guy in the seat in front of him.
“Heey~ Hikaru, you’re here too, huh”
“Yeah…. By the way Takeshi is also here too, okay?”
“Oh, you’re right. I was sleeping so I didn’t notice”
After that, Alisa was caught off guard seeing Masachika start chatting pleasantly without minding her.
Alisa was self-aware that she had a better appearance than most people.
Alisa understood that beauty was one of the weapons in interpersonal relationships and of course, she was also trying to improve herself in that regard. She didn’t use make-up because it was against school regulations but still, she was proud of her beauty, which wasn’t at all inferior to any celebrity out there.
She wasn’t interested in attracting the attention of the opposite sex in particular but, she knew that her appearance, especially her silver, would attract people’s attention.
For this reason, Masachika, who was almost the only one who showed no interest in her, made a lasting impression in her.
However, when it reached the point where she started to pay attention to Masachika, Alisa noticed immediately.
It’s not that Masachika was not interested in girls, nor was he not interested in other people. He’s just a guy with no motivation for everything.
Forgetting his textbooks. Falling asleep in class. Hurrying to get his homework done at the last minute in break time. Not standing out and performing in PE class with the least minimum amount of effort. An ounce of motivation couldn’t be felt from his feckless attitude.
(Even in the most prestigious schools, there are students like this everywhere, isn’t it)
With that said, Alisa lost interest in this neighbor. That all changed during the school festival in September.
The last school festival of the junior high school. It was a time period where many junior high school students were busy with exams. Almost all of the students in this school would just go up the escalator to high school and because of that, they were not that desperate to study for exams.
Rather, they had decided to do something big for the last time and at Takeshi’s suggestion who became a member of the school festival executive committee, the class was to carry out a haunted house for their event.
But, it was overflowing with motivation only at the beginning. Despite everyone being in high spirits at the planning meeting stage, once the actual preparation work actually started, its plainness and difficulty made the motivation of the class go down and down.
Sensing the mood, Alisa quickly prepared herself to take on the bulk of the work.
After school. Alisa remained alone in class to make costumes. She accidentally stuck her own finger with the needle, then reflexively she pulled her hand away.
She sucked and sterilized the appearing ball of blood with her mouth, applying strong pressure to stop the bleeding. So that the blood didn’t get on the costume she was working on, she put on a band-aid on the injury.
This wasn’t the first time she injured her fingers doing unfamiliar needlework. The band-aids around Alisa’s fingers had already reached the fifth one.
However, she continued her work despite the throbbing pain coming from her fingers.
She couldn’t afford to be discouraged by something just this much. As long as she was participating, there was no way she was going to have a half-hearted event. With that in mind, she once again faced the costume.
“Ah, as expected you’re still here, huh”
Then, that was said at that moment. The door of the classroom was opened with a clatter, and Masachika, who had disappeared somewhere as soon as the homeroom was over, came in.
“Kuze-kun…. What’s wrong?”
“Thanks for your hard work. Well, got a little something to do, see”
While slurring his words, Masachika looked down at the several documents fluttering in his hands. Alisa was drawn by it and looked at it too but she didn’t know what kind of documents it was.
“Well, you should also go home today too, Kujou-san. We can also work on that part again with everyone tomorrow, too”
Alisa became a little irritated at Masachika who said that while shrugging his shoulders.
(You’ll never make it if you take your time… In the first place, isn’t it that I’m doing it because no one was doing it)
She turned her irritation into clear rejection. Strengthening her tone, she pushed him away.
“You don’t have to worry about me. After just a little bit more I’ll go home too. So please don’t bother me”
“…. Aaa~ well, okay”
Masachika’s gaze wandered about as he sat on his seat. He scratched his head and said in an as-matter-of-fact tone.
“For making the costumes, I’ve already talked to the handicraft club about getting them to cooperate, so you can just leave it to them”
Alisa was stunned by his unexpected words, and Masachika held out the documents he had been holding.
“It’s permission to use the boarding house. If it’s a staying over event, It should also motivate those guys who are losing motivation”
“Wah… such a, how…”
“Nnn~ well, it’s the student council. The former vice-president was…. No, I asked the former student council president, you see. Got a little connection with that person”
Alisa looked suspiciously at Masachika who suddenly said that hesitatingly but Masachika continued talking as if he was avoiding her questioning.
“Yeah…. Well, so that is why. The handicraft club agreed to lend a male-helping hand. If you tell them it’s a chance to show the girls in the handicraft club your reliability, some of the guys will be happy to take it, right. Regarding the preparation for the activities… well, I guess it’s Takeshi’s job from here”
“Anyway, you can go home now. It’s no use if Kujou-san is doing your best alone, right?”
At Masachika’s casual remark, Alisa’s pent-up emotions were unleashed.
“What do you mean… it’s no use?”
She was struggling with the unfamiliar needlework and was stressed out, and the usually unmotivated person she looked down upon in her heart offered her a solution, and then denied her efforts.
That fact pushed down the bulwark in her heart.
Before she realized it, Alisa slammed the costume she was working onto the desk with a bang.
She stood up with the same vigor and severely glared at Masachika.
“I….! As long as I’m participating, I will make sure this event is good! For it to be presented in half-hearted shape on the actual day, I absolutely don’t want that! I absolutely don’t want to make compromises!!”
Alisa herself was aware that more than half-way through she was venting out her anger at him, but the words wouldn’t stop.
“But…. I know, I know that I’m being selfish! Everyone is not as serious as me, I know that! That’s why I’m trying to make up for that! Do you know what am I doing wrong!?”
She let emotions get the better of her, and lashed it out on someone. It was the first time for Alisa since elementary school.
Alisa who usually didn’t show her feelings, good or bad, showed her bare and intense emotions.
In response, Masachika opened his eyes wide and said clearly.
“You’re putting effort in the wrong direction”
Alisa was taken aback by the unexpected upfront rebuttal. Looking straight at Alisa, Masachika continued calmly.
“A school festival’s event is not something you create alone. We all have to work together to make it happen, right? If you want to have a good event, instead of giving up that everyone isn’t going to do it anyway, shouldn’t we think about how to motivate everyone to do it instead?”
Straight to the eyes. An irrefutable sound argument. Alisa wanted to turn her head away.
However, Alisa’s pride would not allow her to do that. She glared back at Masachika as hard as she could, determined to not be defeated in silence. But before Alisa could say anything else, Masachika looked away.
“….But you know, I would also be annoyed if I were talked to like that. It’s my bad. I know that Kujou-san was doing you best, and I’m not going to deny that”
He bowed his head slightly, and Alisa was not sure what to do.
Her anger that was lashed out on him was returned with an apology. Her raised fist had nowhere to go.
Above all, “ I know that Kujou-san was doing you best”. Those words were so strangely close to her heart that she couldn’t breath.
“….I’m going home”
In the end, that’s all Alisa could squeeze out. She grabbed her bag and went out of the classroom at a quick pace.
(What’s with him…? What’s with him really, geez!)
She walked through the school while desperately trying to calm down the many emotions swirling wildly in her chest. Pretending not to notice it, joy lay behind her dissatisfaction and regret.
–The next day.
“You guys! We have a stay oveeeeeerr!!!!”
The meeting for the school festival started with a yell from a very excited Takeshi.
To the bewildered classmates not understanding what’s happening, in an excited tone, Takeshi explained that Masachika had obtained permission to use the boarding house.
“While continuing the preparation for the school festival, at night, we will play hide-and-seek in the school building and test of courage! We’ve got all kinds of recreational activities here, it’s our very own pre-pre-pre-night festivaaaaaal!! Uuuoooo!!”
Towards the wild Takeshi, the classmates smiled bitterly saying “Far from pre-pre-pre, it’s only a week ahead, you know”, and like “Isn’t playing the main part, not the preparation?”. As if pulled by the tension, they showed willingness to get on board.
But before they knew it, the schedule for that day had been set up. When the meeting was over, everyone was happily discussing the upcoming stay-over.
They were even more excited than when they were planning the school festival’s program.
Then the day for the preparation of the stay over came. In addition to the activities at night, the guys who were lured by the bait of the girls’ home-cooked meals, worked unusually hard and the work progressed at a rapid pace.
The high morale continued even after the stay over, and on the day of the school festival, Alisa’s target was achieved…. No, the haunted was even of a higher quality.
In the end, the sales amount was the highest among all programs and they even received an award for that.
“Aah, Thanks for your hardwood. Kujou-san”
The closing party after everything was done. While the students were folk-dancing in a circle in the schoolyard, Alisa was walking towards the school building when she came across Masachika sitting on the stairs in front of the entrance.
Masachika was sitting with his knee up resting his chin there while he was looking at the schoolyard with a wry smile.
Alisa followed his gaze. There she found Takeshi, who seemed to be calling out to every girl he could find, and Hikaru who seemed to be invited to dance by girls one after another.
“Haha, those guys really got it tough”
“….You’re not going to join them?”
She asked Masachika, who was laughing as if it’s somebody else’s business. Masachika raised one of his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.
“Hmm? I don’t even have a partner to dance with… But then, this school is very old fashioned-like in this way. Holding folk dances at the closing party these days… Well, there’s no campfire, though”
“…. Can I… sit next to you?”
“Hmm? Aah, it’s fine but, are you not going to dance? If it’s Kujou-san I’m sure you’d be in great demand, right? Ah, by chance, do you not know how to folk dance?”
“That’s rude. I used to do ballet when I was little, you know? I can dance like that in no time. But well, it’s troublesome so I pretended I can’t dance and declined the invitations”
Alisa sat down next to Masachika while snorting her nose and brushing her hair to her back.
“Thanks for your hard work again…. for that one”
“I’m not really bothered though? I’m used to it so it’s not a big deal”
“Is that so. That’s the Aloof Princess for you”
“What’s with that name?”
Towards Alisa knitting her eyebrows in suspicion, Masachika said in surprise.
“Huh? You don’t know? It’s what the other students recently call Kujou-san, though”
“You don’t seem… to be happy with it huh?”
“I guess so, I think I’m not too happy with it”
“Why? Is it because they’re teasing you as a loner?”
“Not in that way. Also, can you stop looking at me like I’m an idiot?”
Masachika lowered his head when she stared at him. “She got angry”, said Masachika, sticking out his bottom lip in jest. Alisa sighed towards such Masachika, then said.
“What I’m not happy about is the ‘Princess” part”
“Why? Isn’t that just a normal complement”
“You think so? To me, it sounds like someone who lives in a dream, not knowing any hardship”
“Aaah~ I see, there’s also a way of seeing it like that?”
“It’s true that I was born with looks and talents more than what most people have. But, I’ve never once sat on my hands. I don’t like it when people talk about my past efforts as if I was just born lucky”
Masachika showed his understanding that she was not happy with the idea.
“Well then, I’ll try not to call you that”
After saying that as if it’s something really trivial, Alisa said quietly while still looking to the front.
“….Thank you, Kuze-kun”
“Hmm? What for?”
“I think… this is the first time I’ve ever finished a school festival with such joyful feelings”
Doing a program for the class was always a hassle for Alisa
She always had to cover for the other members, and when it was all done, she felt more exhausted than accomplished.
But, this time it was different. It was fun to work together as a class to carry out the preparations.
The sense of accomplishment that came from working together was greater than the sense of accomplishment that came from working alone. Now, there was a certain exhilaration in the midst of the fatigue.
“Like you said, I was wrong. If I tried to do it alone, I don’t think I would be able to spend the school festival feeling this way…. And, I’m sorry. I vented my anger on you”
When Alisa apologized clearly while looking away, Masachika waved his hand in an uncomfortable manner.
“Don’t worry about it. Besides, I just did some light formalities, and I didn’t work as hard as Takeshi and Kujou-san”
Indeed. It was actually Takeshi who led and motivated their classmates. But, the one who moved Takeshi, and set up all of the groundwork was Masachika.
Moreover, while he may seem to appear unmotivated and wobbly, in fact, he prepared the best environment for his class to do the work and continuously made follow up for them.
The person himself might have said that he hasn’t done anything big, but Alisa knew it was Masachika who had done the most.
“But I do mind it. I want to do something to apologize for taking out my anger on you and to show my thanks to you for… this time. Is there anything in mind?”
“Thanks…. thanks, huh?”
“Don’t answer with there’s none, okay”
Alisa had blocked all of the escape path ahead of him. Masachika was twisting his head for a while, then suddenly asked an unrelated question.
“By the way, in Russia there’s a practice of calling each other by some special nickname, right? And what’s the nickname for Alisa in Russia?”
“What? It’s so sudden”
“Alisha? No, is it Alishika, Alichika? Something like that was the nickname in Russia, wasn’t it?”
“….It’s Alya. My family calls me Alya”
“I see… Then, in return for the apology and thanks, I’ll have you give me the right to call you Alya”
“What’s that. How’s that me thanking you?”
When Alisa frowned in confusion, Masachika showed a wry smile.
“I will be the only person and the only guy who calls the idol of the class everyone admires by her nickname. Yeaah!”
“Are you an idiot?”
“Thank you very much!!”
Alisa spit that out with a put-off face to Masachika, who suddenly started saying something stupid. And there, one of the boys who had been hanging around in the surrounding all the time called out to her.
“Err, um, Kujou-san. Would you like to dance with me?”
“Aah, you can’t just steal the march! Alisa-san, to tell you the truth, you’ve been on my mind all the time. Please dance with me!”
“Didn’t you just confess in the heat of the moment! Then I will too–”
Starting from one guy calling out to her, all at once five, six guys swarmed Alisa.
Apparently, it had been slowly approaching the final hour for the dance so he gathered up the courage to come.
“I’m sorry. I can’t dance”
“It’s fine. I’m good at dancing so I’ll teach you”
“Haah? I’m better than you at dancing. Hey, how about dance with me?”
“It’s fine really, all you have to do is shake your body to the music!”
Even though Alisa apologized and clearly rejected them, all the guys were so determined to dance with her and showed no sign of backing down.
Slowly, the guys came closer. Alisa suddenly narrowed her eyes and stood up.
It was in the moment when she was about to cut them off with merciless words.
Suddenly Alisa’s right hand was being pulled to the right in one go.
“My bad, we have prior promise. Let’s go, Alya”
Masachika said this so the guys would hear it and he walked to the schoolyard while still holding Alisa’s hand.
Alisa hurriedly followed him while raising a voice of protest against the forcefulness.
Normally, she would have forced him to let go of her hand and given him a slap but at that moment, Alisa followed Masachika in a surprisingly obedient manner.
Her heart was racing. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the big back of Masachika ahead of her.
When she thought about it, it was the first time for Alisa that an opposite sex forcibly held her hand and pulled her.
(That’s right, it’s my first time experiencing this so I’m just a little confused. There’s nothing more, that’s all!)
As Alisa said this to herself, Masachika stopped in the middle of the circle of students. Simultaneously, the last song began to play.
“Aah right, you said it earlier right? That you used to do ballet so you can do folk dance just from watching”
“Ye-yes, what about it?”
Alisa asked back, desperately trying to regain her composure. Masachika then smiled provocatively.
“Then, how about you show me what you’ve got? Oh . Prin . Cess?”
A teasing way of speaking. Based on what was said earlier, his intention was clear.
“….You have some nerve. Do your best to keep up with me so you don’t look like a fool, okay,”
“Don’t step on my foot out of being too eager, yeah? Alya-chan?”
“Bring it on!!”
Alisa raised her eyebrows and twitched her cheek at Masachika who smiled as if he tried to fan the flame.
In the last dance, where normally was a time in which two people who loved each other danced, the two of them challenged each other with an atmosphere totally devoid of any kind of sweetness. At first, she danced just like the others, but gradually her steps deviated from the others.
With her long arms and legs spread gracefully, Alisa danced in a non-serious manner through the schoolyard at night. Although her dance fit the song, it was no longer something that could be called a folk dance.
However, Masachika properly moved in line with his out-of-control partner. His movements were not equal to hers. But he wasn’t being pushed around either.
He was trying to say out of his partner’s way. Despite all that, he’s also doing a good job of not letting her get out of control. Their match was miraculously formed as a dance with a clear distinction between the main and supporting roles.
(Ah, that’s right. that’s.. all you’re about, isn’t it)
While they were dancing, there was something that clicked inside Alisa. This dance, this standing was what Masachika all about.
Keeping yourself from the limelight and supporting others. Staying in the shadows and making others shine. That was the kind of person Masachika was.
Before she realized, Alisa was laughing. The dance was started as a competition, but before long she was truly enjoying it.
However, that time didn’t last long. Not long after that, the song ended and the dance was over. Feeling reluctant, she let go of Masachika’s hands and bowed.
“Yeah, as expected you’re good, huh. I could barely keep up”
“I suppose, that was fun”
Alisa’s honest words made Masachika blink in surprise.
“….Then, I’ll be returning first”
“Oh my? You’re not going to escort me?”
“Give me a break. If I do that all those jealous guys will come and kill me”
“Fuun. I see, that’s nice to hear”
Alisa smiled at Masachika lowering his head and smoothly wrapped Masachika’s arm around hers.
“Wai-, what are–”
“So, could you escort me, please?”
“….In other words, you want me dead?”
“It’s a punishment for calling me a princess”
As Masachika, with a dejected look, began to walk without shaking off her arm, Alisa smiled good-humoredly as she finally managed to score a hit on him.
After all this time, she felt embarrassed by her own actions but even more than that, she felt good. She was walking shoulder-to-shoulder with someone. She was incredibly happy about that.
On the short distance heading to the school building. Alisa felt that the vague sense of loneliness and alienation she had felt ever since her elementary school days started to melt away and disappear, little by little….
….She did feel it, however. The next day.
“Morning. Alya, my bad. Can you show me the textbook for modern Japanese?”
Masachika was… returning back to the unmotivated Masachika.
“He-hey, what’s wrong? Alya. You’re looking at me like I’m trash, you know?”
“This piece of trash”
“Isn’t that blow too strong!?”
As Masachika screamed with a stiff smile, Alisa let out an ostentatious sigh and turned her face away as if in a bad mood.
Then while still looking the other way she thrusted out the textbook for modern Japanese straightforwardly and let out a brief comment in Russian.
【Even though you looked so cool yesterday】
Yes, she muttered that softly.
Even after that Masachika remained the same.
He was always so unmotivated and always made her exasperated. And yet, when the time came he was more reliable than anyone else. He casually supported others as if it’s something trivial.
For Alisa who always saw everyone around her as her rival, Masachika’s behaviour came out as strange but…. At the same time, she felt relieved.
She didn’t have to compete with this person. Knowing that she didn’t have to compete for superiority with him lightened Alisa’s heart. Since then, Alisa was able to get in touch with Masachika without worry.
Frustrated by his usual lack of motivation, she would give him a scolding. Annoyed by his usual air of composure, she would tease him. Aggravated by his stance as if he was watching over her from above, she would show him a gap in Russian and laugh at his silly obliviousness.
As she spent her days like that, before she noticed it she….
“So you’ve fallen in love with him right~ How wonderful!”
Alisa let out a sigh as Mariya raised a springy voice and clapped her hands together.
“Like I said…. That’s not it. Did you hear what I said?”
“Eee~h? No matter how I heard it, it sounded like two people’s beginning of love though?”
“Don’t put it strangely like that. Earlier didn’t I tell you we are friends?”
“Mm-hmm, friends heading to become lovers. So classic~. That’s what happened to me and Sa-kun after all~.Right~? Sa-kun”
She took out a golden locket from her immensely deep cleavage and talked to the photos inside with a relaxed expression.
If this were a manga, from the beginning there would be heart marks scattering all over the place. Alisa looked at her older sister lukewarmly who had completely transformed into a maiden-in-love mode.
“But well… let’s see. Regarding his ability…. I’ve recognized it. And I also… trust him”
While looking at the photo of her lover Mariya nodded to Alisa, who said that reluctantly while looking away.
“Mm-hmm, a boy who does what he has to do is cool right. Sa-kun too. The back of Sa-kun when he saved me from getting attacked by a dog a long time ago! That was truly–”
“If you’re going to go on about your love, could you leave?”
“Sheesh, Alya-chan so cold!”
Alisa looked coldly at Mariya who puffed up her cheeks.
“Besides, I prefer someone who is usually hardworking”
“You don’t get it, Alya-chan. He is usually a downer, but at a moment’s notice, he shows his manly side! I think that’s ni~ce”
“It’s a difference in opinion. I’m usually.. Rather seriously annoyed at the usually unmotivated Kuze-kun after all”
Perhaps because she remembered a lot of things while she was talking, Alisa continued with a stronger tone.
“Really, forgetting things all the time, sleeping in class, moreover! No matter how many times I warned him, he doesn’t even feel sorry! Always evading frivolously and elusively… well, that’s why I can say whatever I want to him without worry though….”
“I see I see. In other words, there’s a trusting relationship between you two, right?”
“How it became like that”
“No matter what was said, Kuze-kun will never leave you. Precisely because you know it, Alya-chan is able to talk to Kuze-kun without hesitation, right? And Kuze-kun tolerates it. Isn’t that a splendid trusting relationship”
Alisa was at loss for words at the unexpectedly keen observation. However, she quickly recovered and returned a rebuttal.
“You’re wrong. Kuze-kun is a student who deserves to be told off no matter how you slice it, that’s why I will give him warning without reserves, too. Certainly… in a sense, I admit that he’s someone easy to get on with. But, that wouldn’t immediately lead to romantic feelings, right? I mean, if you like someone it’s that, right? Wanting to do…. things… like go on a date, and kiss… that’s what it is, isn’t it? I’ve.. never thought any of that….”
Mariya clasped her hands together and smiled softly at Alisa, who was saying all that while looking away feeling embarrassed.
“Alya-chan, so cute”
“What’s that… Are you making fun of me?”
“I’m not, you know? You know, Alya-chan. It doesn’t have to be going on a date or a kiss or anything special like that. Because if you like someone, just talking to them and touching them makes you feel something special”
Mariya talked with a know-it-all face while she proudly threw out her big chests. Alisa’s eyebrows twitched at her words.
Unusually, Alisa took a bite. Mariya, who had expected it to be brushed aside as usual, blinked a little surprised and then had a far-away look in her eyes.
“Hmmm~, let’s see… the most obvious one is.. holding hands, I guess? Even if you don’t go that far, just hand to hand contact with someone you like will make your heart race. Feeling so embarrassed you just want to scream, but you don’t hate it. And somehow feeling somewhat happy, and then–”
“….Feeling so embarrassed, you want to scream….”
In the middle of talking, Mariya got excited and talked about what love was, squealing with maidenly expression, and shaking her head noisily while looking at her lover’s photo.
In front of her, Alisa stared down at her legs, and then she thrusted her right leg out in front of Mariya.
“? What is it? What’s wrong? Alya-chan”
“Sorry. Could you.. take it off for me?”
Mariya blinked in surprise at the sudden and inexplicable request but, seeing Alisa’s expression, she sensed something. Moving slowly on top of the carpet, Mariya then put her hands on Alisa’s right leg.
Mariya’s hands smoothly took off Alisa’s knee sock. Alisa was looking at this with a somewhat grim expression on her face.
“Okay, I took it off. But… the left one too?”
When Mariya pointed at Alisa’s left leg with a dubious face, Alisa said while furrowing her eyebrows.
“….No, put it on again”
“Eh? What do you mean?”
“Don’t mind it”
With a look that seemed to not understand it, Mariya’s hands put the knee sock back on that she had removed once. As she stared at it, Alisa’s expression became increasingly more grim.
“Okay, I put it back on….though?”
Mariya peeked at Alisa’s face reservedly as if she was guessing what was going on. Not caring for her gaze, Alisa was looking at her legs with a gim expression but, suddenly she breathed out and left her seat.
“….No good. I knew Masha wouldn’t be helpful”
“What do you mean!? I don’t know what is but onee-chan was hurt!”
“Yes yes, it’s enough, right? I’m gonna go change so get out”
“Uuu…. Alya-chan, on a rebellious phase? Is it a rebellious phase? What should I do, Sa-kun. Alya-chan has reached her rebellious phase”
After chasing Mariya out of the room with a miserable look on her face and drooping shoulders, Alisa looked down at her right again and gently ran her fingers down her own thigh.
Feeling somewhat embarrassed, she looked up and there was a large mirror. What reflected was Alisa with cheeks slightly dyed in red.
As if to deny herself such a thing, Alisa made a sullen face. She then muttered with a grim expression towards the one youth who had popped up in her head.
【It’s not what you think】
The Russian words she leaked out in a whisper melted into the air in the room, and disappeared without reaching anyone.
This chapter is really long yo! 7454 words in total. The next chapter is also about the same. This chapter is quite a roller coaster too. At first I didn’t realy like it, but then I was just giggling like an idiot because of how cute Alisa was towards the end.
On another note, some of you might’ve noticed it that I changed Alisa’s nickname to Alya; and Mariya’s nickname to Masha. The reason is simple. I stumbled upon these two wiki pages:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alya_(name) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masha . I’ve also changed their nicknames in the previous chapters and the synopsis in this site yesterday already. Anyway, that’s all from me! o7