They took the automatic bus from the station’s plaza, and fifteen minutes later they got off at the Alrescha bus stop.
Masaki was forcefully dragged along by Shirley, since their arms were linked.
“Look, we’re here!”
Masaki’s close proximity to Shirley’s soft, warm body made it difficult for him to relax.
“I-I got it. I won’t get lost, so I’m fine now.”
The area was overflowing with students heading to school. They were all wearing the same uniform as Shirley.
Since he was new and his arm was intertwined with Shirley’s, everyone’s attention was on him.
“Masaki, have you heard about the classes yet?”
“No. I haven’t heard anything, so I think you should tell me where the staff room is when we’re done. I was given some papers, but I didn’t understand anything when I took a quick look through them.”
“Alright. Our class is Year 2, Class A. It’s on the 45th floor…”
“Seriously, the 45th floor!?”
“Uh-huh. Alrescha goes all the way up to the 60th floor. The cafeteria at the top has a really good view.”
Masaki looked up at the building she pointed out.
The glass skyscraper towered over its surroundings. The first floor had an entrance, and the second and third floors had stairs leading up to them. From the fourth floor onwards it was all glass.
“Is it all classrooms!? I thought this was a corporate building, not a school.”
“Ahaha. The first 29 floors are special classrooms. The teachers’ rooms are on floors 30 through 35, and from there to floor 40 are the first year classrooms. Floors 41 through 45 are the second year classrooms, and up to the 50th floor are the third year classrooms. ”
“Woah… what’s on the last ten floors? ”
“That’s quite amazing.”
“I felt the same way when I started primary and middle school. Even though I was surprised when I changed schools, I got used to the idea almost immediately.”
“That’s okay, but… shouldn’t we separate our arms now, Shirley?”
“Well… isn’t it a little embarrassing? Everyone’s looking…”
She gave a carefree smile.
“Nihaha, don’t worry too much about it, Masaki!”
Masaki wondered if he was being too self-conscious.
“Now, let’s go!”
They passed through the entrance and into a passage wide enough to be called a station concourse, and soon they ended up in a large hall.
This seemed to be the heart of the skyscraper.
In the center of the hall was a curved wall, or maybe it should be called a round column. Many elevators were lined up along the wall, and the words “ELEVATOR PILLAR” were printed on it.
One by one, the students filed into the elevators.
“There’s a lot of elevators.”
“But wouldn’t there be a long wait? Especially during lunch.”
“What – because there are a lot of students?”
“Even though there are elevators all the way around the big pillar, everyone is lined up on one side, so the elevators on the other side aren’t being used.”
“Hahaha… I see.”
“Are there stairs as well?”
“Yeah, there are.”
“What floor is the staff room on again?”
“The 30th floor–”
“No, no, that’s far too high.”
“Hm, there’s a set of stairs on both the school’s east wing and west wing.”
“Why does it seem like you want to use the stairs!?”
“Eh? …Because the stairs are there?”
“This isn’t mountain climbing, you know.”
While they were waiting, somebody behind them cried, “Wha–!?”
When Masaki turned around, he saw a man’s eyes widening in shock.
The man seemed to have a strong physique. His hair was short and evenly cut, and his face was quite square. Altogether, the man’s features gave off a grim impression. Everyone turned to catch a glimpse of the scene about to unfold.
He spoke like he wanted to wring every last drop of blood out of Masaki.
“S-Sakurazaka-san! Who is that guy!?”
“Hmm? He’s Masaki.” Shirley answered indifferently.
Since she didn’t say much, Masaki decided to chime in. “I’m Kusunoki Masaki. Today is my first day at this school.”
“A transfer student? That means you’ve just awakened, right? Some new guy is… with Sakurazaka-san’s a-arm…”
His shoulders started shaking.
“Who… is he?”
“That guy is Ishounuma. He’s in my class. That’s all.”
“Sakurazaka-san, that isn’t all of it, right?”
“That is all.”
“Hmph, you’re as cold as ever.”
Ishounuma was friendly when speaking to Shirley, but was extremely hostile toward Masaki. It seemed like he was ready to attack Masaki at any moment.
“–And? Who are you to Sakurazaka-san?”
Despite having never met Masaki before, he was extremely hostile. Masaki shrunk back from him.
“We’re only childhood friends… Hey, Shirley, it’s just as I thought. if we’re like this, people will misunderstand.”
He softly unlinked their arms.
She looked disappointed while she followed what he said.
However, even that wasn’t enough to calm Ishounuma. Instead, his eyes became bloodshot.
“Y- you’re not using honorifics with her name!? Hey, you! Even though you’ve been Sakurazaka-san’s acquaintance for a long time, it doesn’t mean that you can act overly familiar to her!”
“I didn’t mean to do that.”
“Sakurazaka-san, too! Don’t act so friendly towards some low level guy who just awakened.”
After hearing Ishounuma’s words, Shirley had an angry look on her face.
“What was that? Isn’t it strange to choose who you’ll get along with by their level?”
“Let’s go, Masaki. I’m fine with taking the stairs.”
“I guess that’s for the best.”
Masaki didn’t like to get into conflicts with other people. It might have seemed hard to go all the way up to the 30th floor using the stairs, but to Masaki it was easier than dealing with Ishounuma.
Ishounuma ground his teeth loudly.
He continued glaring at Masaki until he was out of sight.