“Sorry about that, Masaki. It started getting out of hand,” said Shirley as the two climbed the stairs.
“Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t your fault. He acted a bit strange, but he’s only your classmate, right?”
It didn’t look like he believed her.
Shirley looked troubled.
“In Year 1, I didn’t have a partner, so Ishounuma asked me to be his.”
“Really!? Did you hang around with each other, was it just for the class?”
Shirley swung her arms around angrily.
“That’s not it! It’s not like that. I had just become a member of the school committee, and the rule is that everyone must have a partner!”
“Ah… the committee.”
“But in the end I didn’t become his partner – I paired up with someone else. I wonder if he misunderstood because I didn’t directly turn him down? Well, it did look like we’re pretty close.”
“But isn’t it better to be on good terms with people, no matter who they are?”
“Yes, but… I didn’t mean to cause trouble between us… but isn’t it weird that everyone else thinks I’m on particularly good terms with that guy? It’s strange! Strange!”
Maybe it’s because Ishounuma acts like they’re close in order to cause other people to
“I think he’s making it worse by talking like that.”
“Well… you could have said that he was being a pain, too.”
“Did you say that?”
“Yes, many times. I said it plain as day, too!”
Masaki had never been approached by someone of the opposite sex, so he couldn’t imagine what it would be like. However, he was able to understand that this was troubling Shirley just by looking at her face.
When she reached the landing, Shirley suddenly turned around to face Masaki.
“I’m just making sure, but you’re not having some strange misunderstanding, right?”
“It’s alright since you explained everything. Of course I believe you.”
“Then, that’s fine… for the record, I would never have a special relationship with someone who discriminates by level!”
Masaki had begun to pant by the time they reached the 15th floor.
Masaki lifted his glasses and rubbed his nose.
“Phew… Now that you mention it, you said something about attitudes towards levels… what was that about?”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just a number.”
“I don’t know very much about it… are levels important?”
A surprised look appeared on Shirley’s face.
“Masaki, you don’t know anything about levels?”
“I only just transferred schools. Didn’t I tell you that I didn’t understand anything in the transfer documents?”
“Then, what about Dialecte and Globaliser?”
Masaki was astonished. He stared intensely at Shirley.
“Amazing. You’ve really changed from when you were a child.”
“Wh-what? What do you mean?”
“I didn’t expect such difficult-sounding words to seem so normal to you.”
“Huh? Nihaha, is that so? Is it amazing? Really amazing?” Shirley’s chest swelled with pride.
“I think it’s really amazing. So? What kind of things are Dialecte and Globaliser?”
Shirley stiffened. Her face fell.
Then she groaned, “Uuu… What did you say? I feel like going shouting ‘Yaa!’ and whacking you. Nya…”
“Thanks. I’ve got it now.”
“Yeah. You’re still Shirley!”
Masaki understood – Shirley had disappeared seven years ago because of her ability, and now, thanks to that same talent, he was able to reunite with Shirley.
“…Since my ability is really weak, I doubt it’d be useful for anything even if I study hard and take extra classes.”
“It’s normal for your power to be weak and your level to be low when you’ve only just awakened. I’m sure that it’ll change soon, so don’t let it bother you, alright?”
“Oh, so is the strength of the ability the level?”
“It kinda is. The teacher said something about test results.”
“Is it important in this school?”
“Even though the classes are divided by levels, I say that everyone is important… so to me it doesn’t matter.”
“Well, we all use the same cafeteria!”
“I see. That’s a strong argument.”
Shirley said that she was in class A. If classes are determined by levels, then would it be the class for the highest level students?
That Ishounuma guy seems to be in the same class as Shirley. Judging from his attitude, he probably has a high level, too.
“You don’t need to worry about that. The level is just a number, a number!”
“How is the level decided?
“When I say that you don’t need to worry when I’m talking about levels, don’t you think it’s strange? So, when the time comes for you to need to know about it, you can ask someone then.”
“Perhaps, you don’t know very much about it?”
“Th-th-th-that’s not it.”
Shirley’s vision wavered, almost causing her to trip. It was especially dangerous since they were climbing the stairs.
“Well, everything will be explained when I get to the staff room.” Masaki sighed.
Shirley suddenly placed her finger on the tip of his nose.
She wore a serious expression.
“You only need one thing, and that’s a positive attitude! I don’t discriminate between people by their levels or anything like that!”
Shirley gave him a smile as she turned around.
It seemed to be natural that Masaki, who had just awakened, still had a low level. She must have been worried about him. Masaki swallowed his words of thanks instead of voicing them, since he felt their relationship wasn’t equal anymore.
There were still more stairs ahead of them.
He decided to change the topic.
“That reminds me… what kind of committee did you get into?”
“My committee? It does lots of different things… we do rounds to make sure that there aren’t any rule-breakers and give warnings to people who break the rules of the academy, those kind of things.”
“Is it the public morals committee?”
“It’s a bit like that. However, our name is much more exciting than that!”
“What is it?”
“It’s Breaker.” She blushed slightly as she said it.
It’s a rather over-the-top name for a school committee. Maybe it has some meaning?
“Well, apart from the name… I think it’s Shirleyish.”
“When we were kids, you disliked unlawful things. When it came to dealing with bad guys you seemed stronger than me, but you were just the kind of person who could face them without faltering. Should I call it being an ally of justice or just reckless? At any rate, you acted rashly. Do you remember?”
“Nihaha, I guess it was like that… well, it usually didn’t go very well.”
“You were clumsy. Maybe it’s because you frequently misunderstood things?”
“Only a little.”
Her bitter smile had a strange darkness behind it. It was an expression that she never made when they were young.
Maybe she got into some kind of trouble.
She probably couldn’t say anything to Masaki since he had just arrived at the school, but–
“Shirley, I think it’s best if you do what you think is right.”
“Hm? Oh, I think so, too… thanks, Masaki!”
She shook off the dark atmosphere and gave a bright smile that she had since she was an elementary school student.
A high-pitched electronic sound rang out.
The sharp sound repeated, assaulting the ears of the pair and echoing through the wide stairwell.
Shirley lifted up her left arm. On it she wore a silver bracelet that bore an engraved rose adorned with a violet crystal.
The sound stopped once she placed her right hand on it, and a translucent board appeared in the previously empty space above it. This wasn’t some kind of illusion – it was purely the product of science.
The holographic screen displayed “EMERGENCY” in large, red letters.
Her expression froze.
“There’s trouble in the school building… what am I gonna do? I’ve got a dispatch request from the committee.”
Her eyes darted back and forth between the window and Masaki.
He was able to roughly guess what was troubling her.
“What are you worried about? If it’s me, then you don’t need to worry. I’m not a child, so I won’t get lost in the school.”
“You’re being called, aren’t you? Isn’t it an emergency?”
“Then get going!” Masaki declared firmly. “I can get to the staff room on the 30th floor myself.” It wouldn’t take much time to get there, as they were currently on the 25th floor.
The doubt disappeared from her face, leaving seriousness in its place.
“Thanks, Masaki. I’ll be going now. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to show you everything!”
“It’s alright. After you’re done, I’d like it if you’d show me around some other places – especially the shop where they sell delicious cakes.”
“Of course! You really like cakes, Masaki! See you later!”
Shirley gave a nod then ran off.
As he resumed his climb, she rushed into the corridor on the 26th floor with her bracelet held close to her ear.
“It’s Shirley. Fill me in on the situation!”
He didn’t hear her colleague’s response as her footsteps quickly faded down the corridor.