It was a very hot day at Ryokurin Academy. Students stood in line for a water fountain between classes, and every window in the building was thrown open in the vain hope of letting in a cooling breeze. To make matters worse, a school wide assembly was held directly after school, forcing them to remain in their confining uniforms for yet another hour as they sat in the stuffy auditorium. There was a general sigh of relief as they were finally released.
Shun, Hasukawa, Shinobu and Mitsuru all met up after the assembly and began the slow march back to the dorm, which, like the school, was not air-conditioned. Shun gathered up his long hair and held it over his head to give the back of his neck some air. "I canít believe how hot it is! Itís only April, and Iím already burning up!"
Shinobu smiled reassuringly. "Donít worry, it will cool off in a few days." No one questioned how he came to this conclusion, but they didnít doubt its accuracy. Shinobu just knew these things.
Mitsuru sighed. "Until then, weíll just have to suffer." He had already discarded his jacket, and was in the process of loosening his tie and undoing his top few shirt buttons. There was a loud sigh as he passed a group of Junior High girls, but he didnít stop to flirt with them. At this point, he was far more interested in changing his clothes. He could feel the sweat running down the back of his neck, but there was no breeze to cool him down. He looked resentfully over at his best friend, who seemed completely comfortable in his uniform, and wasnít sweating at all. Shinobu rarely sweated, and when he did, it was a few token beads of perspiration on his forehead, nothing more. Quite irritating, really.
Hasukawa was in the worst shape of all. His face had blushed a bright red, and sweat trickled down his temples. Following the upperclassmanís example he struggled out of his blazer, and contemplated taking his shirt off as well. He decided against it, as they were almost home anyway. His shoulders drooped as they plodded towards Greenwood.
"I know!" Shun said excitedly, "we can all go for ice cream. That should cool us off."
"Does sound tempting," said Mitsuru. "Ice cream parlors are always air-conditioned." He turned to his roommate. "Do we still have any money left from the Student Council betting pool winnings?"
"A little. If that isnít enough, thereís still plenty from the Talent Show betting pool winnings."
"Good. Iím going to get a butterscotch sundae. You coming?"
Shinobu nodded, pushing open the door of the dorm and stepping inside, where the temperature was even less pleasant.
Shun looked at Mitsuru with some concern. "Mitsuru-sempai, donít your parents give you an allowance for stuff like that?"
"Yeah, but I try to use my own money for stuff like this. I donít want to make them pay for everything. Thatís why we run all the betting pools."
Hasukawa snorted. "I though you were just greedy."
Mitsuru smiled charmingly. "That too. Letís leave as soon as we finish changing. Itís hot as hell in here." They all nodded in agreement and filed into their rooms.
When Hasukawa emerged, clad in shorts and an old T-shirt, he was distressed to find that the two older students still looked impeccable. Shinobu wore a pale blue polo shirt and a pair of jeans, and his silver hair was still unruffled. Mitsuru had donned a light gray tank top and some khaki slacks. He looked at his own clothes, and the girlish short-overalls that Shun had changed into, and silently cursed. He should have gotten used to being outshined, but it still irritated him. And to make it worse, Shinobu and Mitsuru both knew that it bothered him. They could be very cruel.
Ignoring Hasukawaís obvious resentment, Mitsuru started down the hall, and the other three students followed him. He was more interested in ice cream than he was in Sukaís inferiority complex.
Arriving at the ice cream parlor, they were disappointed to find it extremely crowded. Hasukawa groaned loudly and found a place in line. The others were about to follow when Shinobu noticed another cashier, who provided all of their desserts before Hasukawa even ordered. Now the challenge was to find a table. They left their friend in line and began searching the restaurant for a place to sit.
Seeing every table occupied, Shunís face dropped. "Now what? My banana split is melting!"
Suddenly, they heard a voice from across the room. "Oi! Shinobu!"
Shinobu looked curiously at the girl who had yelled at him, who was sharing a table with another girl, wearing the same school uniform as she. It looked like the uniform that Miya Igarashi wore. He smiled and waved at her.
The girl grinned. "Want to share a table? We have some extra room."
Shinobu nodded. "Come on Mitsuru, looks like thereís room for two."
Shun looked at them in confusion. "Who is that girl?"
"She was Student Council President of her school at the same time as I was President of Ryokurin. We had a lot of meetings together. Iím guessing the other girl is her roommate."
"ButÖ if you guys sit with them, where will Suka and I sit?"
"Iím sure youíll find somewhere." He and Mitsuru happily went over and sat with the two girls, leaving Shun alone with his banana split. Suka chose this moment to arrive.
"Hey Shun. What happened to Mitsuru and Shinobu?"
"They sat over there with the cute blonde girls."
Hasukawa looked from Shun, to the girls, to Shun again. It still seemed odd for Shun to show an interest in girls, even if he did know that his roommate was male. The girls were cute, though. "Where are we going to sit?"
"Oi! Suka! Shun! Come sit with us!"
Hasukawa looked warily at the table that had called them. It was already occupied by six of his classmates. "UmÖ I donít think thereís room."
"Come on, you can squeeze in! Thereís nowhere else to sit."
"Come on Suka," Shun said cheerfully, already finding himself a place at the crowded booth.
Hasukawa glanced sadly over at the booth where his other friends sat happily chatting with the blondes, then back at the tiny space that had been made for him. This was always the way it turned out for him. He wearily sat down and began stuffing himself with ice cream. 'I might as well accept it,' he thought sadly, 'This is my life.í
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