“Sano Mitsuo, at your service.”
Masuda Natsumi stared at the boy who had been assigned as her desk neighbour. He talks like an old man!
There was something strange about his way of speaking as well. As if he had relearned Japanese after living abroad.
At her other side she had the silent Wakayama Tadao. A shy boy who just didn't understand how gorgeous he looked. Thankfully he was shy enough not to take much notice of the looks the other girls gave him.
I'll reel him in good. Bright, honest to a fault and with a little devil grinning in his eyes whenever he smiled. What else was there to want? Nothing, not since she had laid her eyes on him when her parents moved from Sapporo to Tokyo last year and she transferred into his ninth grade class.
He never rejected her advances, but neither did he agree to date her. Well, at least he knew she had a crush on him, and he still wanted to be friends with her. You can't leave an opening like that, you know. I'll have you mine!
What Natsumi wanted she got. Luckily for her parents she wasn't a greedy girl, but whenever she set her mind to something she got the results she wanted in the end. It didn't always come easy, and it didn't always take only a short time, but in the end.
“Excuse me, but could you please help out an old man here?”
The strange kid again. And he called himself an old man! “Sure, if you tell me how old you are.”
“Let's see. That would be seventy one this year,” he answered without batting an eye.
If you plan to play it like that. “Sure grandpa.”
“And here I was so worried about youth today. Seems my worries were unfounded.” He grinned. A predatory grin, and suddenly Natsumi didn't like the joke any longer. Her instincts screamed: Danger!
“Was there anything you needed help with?” That was Tadao-kun's voice. Secretly just 'Tadao' in her mind.
Natsumi gratefully threw him a glance when he came to her help. Whenever things threatened to get ugly he simply forgot to be shy and acted on his own sense of honour.
“Another polite kid. I'm so fortunate today.”
“Kid? I'm oldest in the class.”
“I'm afraid you might just be mistaken. By fifty five years or so, if I may add.”
“You may not,” Tadao-kun said, and his voice grew something steely into it.
How could I not fall for you? Tadao, you dummy. Just give up and be my boyfriend, will you?
“You're perfectly right. Age isn't a right. It just is,” Sano-san said and met Tadao-kun's eyes.
Why does he keep up that creepy joke? It isn't funny any longer.
Sano-san and Tadao-kun locked themselves in a staring match. In the end Tadao-kun lost and gave Natsumi an embarrassed look.
He tried. He tried for me. Now or never. “Tadao, I love you.” She had told him she was interested before, implied she wanted a relationship with him, but she had never confessed outright like this.
Surprised shouts from the desks around them told her her confession hadn't gone undetected.
“Then please be my girlfriend,” he said.
“My my,” Sano-san commented.
Natsumi didn't care. Her chest swelled with joy. Finally! I'll even forgive you for being creepy, Sano-san.
One meeting. One that defined their lives. On such circumstances are friends for life made.