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Chapter 4 Main Chapters Chapter 5

Interlude 4

Kazuki slowly opened his eyes as his alarm clock blared at him. Somehow, his sleep-addled brain knew it needed to hit the snooze bar. What could possibly accomplish such a task? Was there anything that could? The appendage called an arm could, possibly, if it only had the energy for it. Kazuki slowly moved his arm out towards the snooze bar, and hit it, and rested briefly in the blissful silence. Then he began to sit up on his futon, or sleeping mat.

He seemed strangely fortunate this morning. He appeared to be alone in his room. Having gotten up when the alarm called him, he doubted Mitsuki Sanada was going to use physical force to awaken him. Maybe things ought to be like this every morning.

Kumu the dog had been waiting for this opportunity, when Kazuki Yotsuga would finally be within her reach and beyond the help of his friends. She arose from the far corner of his futon. She had been waiting for this moment all morning. The dog bounded over Kazuki's legs, causing him to yelp in surprise. Kumu would see that he did more than that before she was through. Now the human's face was before her, and his neck was vulnerable. His carotid arteries were in the perfect position for a strike. With the full momentum she had gathered in her run across the futon, Kumu leapt, readying her fangs, striking the precise area that she targeted, and fiercely ripped into the flesh of Kazuki Yotsuga.

A cry of primal pain erupted from Kazuki Yotsuga's throat. Kumu released her death grip. Kazuki rubbed his forehead where Kumu had bitten him. In an astonishing demonstration that the speed of light can be exceeded, the two Mitsukis, Dee, and Yayoi, had all crossed the house and appeared in at the door of Kazuki's room. The ladies wasted no time in spilling into the room and asking what was wrong.

"Kumu bit me again!" Kazuki sighed in resignation.

"Bad Kumu!" Dee reprimanded her dog. She removed the dog from the room by the scruff of her neck.

Kumu was victorious. Her strike had gone exactly as she hoped! Now that man Yotsuga knew the price of angering her! Next time, she would strike at his foot again: no one would expect that. Dee proceeded to sternly discipline her beloved dog.

"Oh, Kazuki, does it hurt?" Mitsuki Rara asked with deep sympathy.

"It doesn't look too bad," Yayoi decided, examining his forehead from an oddly close range. Kazuki was still sitting on the floor on his futon.

"But you're bleeding terribly!" Mitsuki Rara expressed horror. As a head wound, it was indeed more effusive in that fashion. "I'll make sure it doesn't get in your eyes." She knelt beside him and wiped blood off his forehead.

"Um, thanks, I think I'll be fine-" Kazuki began to say, then made a noise of pure pain.

Mitsuki Sanada unrelentingly swabbed the wound with disinfectant. "I may not be a doctor, but I think you're going to live, so stop whining."

Kazuki decided that it was better to have his morning routine as usual than to have Kumu deliver him this fate. What kind of dog bit someone she knew? What had Kazuki ever done to Kumu? Everyone there knew the answer to those questions, but no one, not even Dee, had any idea how to get Kumu to stop biting him.

Somehow, this wound was too large for a single adhesive bandage, so Kazuki found himself with three adorning his pate before Mitsuki Sanada, Mitsuki Rara, and Yayoi left the room. Dee came in and apologized for Kumu.

"That's okay, Dee. It's not your fault," Kazuki reassured her. They both chuckled slightly, knowing what brought Kumu to this pass.

"She's usually so happy here, I just wish she could be friends with you," Dee frowned in sadness.

"Maybe it'll happen someday," Kazuki suggested.

"I brought you this," Dee smiled radiantly, placing a fourth bandage upon his head. Kazuki thanked her, and she left him so he could finally get ready for the morning. Later, he headed downstairs, as ready as he ever could be.

Here at the table were three breakfasts once again for Kazuki. Though he was surrounded by good cooks, he rarely got to really appreciate their cooking, because he had to arrive at school on time after breakfast. He was therefore always forced to rush and eat all three breakfasts really fast.

Somehow, once again, he managed to stuff all of that delicious food into his craw, and still make it out the door on time. Before he left, he of course picked up three boxed lunches. One was made by Yayoi, another by Mitsuki Sanada, and another by Mitsuki Rara, just as the breakfasts were made by them. They regularly made them for him, which was very kind of them. It was so unfortunate that his unruly classmates cast a shadow upon such generosity. Kazuki continued out the door towards the school.

Their whole group arrived at school safely, and with plenty of time. Everyone went their different ways. The clouds outside Kazuki's classroom commenced a stately, dogged march. The sun deliberately strode to its midday site.

The most dreaded part of Kazuki's school day was growing closer. Lunchtime was still very uncomfortable for him in the synthesis world. For some reason, the entire male population of the school still competed to buy his three lunches. What can be said? They really wanted to buy a lunch that an attractive woman had made. That was the only possible explanation- the lunches were good, indeed very good, but not good enough to cause a regular storming of Kazuki's desk every day at lunch time by at least 20 classmates.

For some reason, this had not been changed in the synthesis world, and Kazuki had no idea why. He couldn't imagine that he had voluntarily left this uncomfortable situation intact, since usually it led to him not getting to eat any lunch at all. He didn't want to think that Mitsuki Sanada had kept it in place. In any case, he didn't have very clear ideas of exactly how this synthesis world came to be as it was. Perhaps it was nobody's fault that his lunches were still the most valuable property on campus. Perhaps it was the fault of all of those guys who battled for the lunches.

This time, he had a plan. It was now one minute before lunchtime. Several girls had disgusted looks on their faces, knowing the sordid ritual was about to begin. Kazuki's friends Masanari Shiozaki and Toshihiko Izawa, who sat behind him, had huge grins on their faces as they made new plans to try to get at least one of Kazuki's lunches. They and everyone else knew that their lucky friend had lunches made for him by the most popular girl in the school, Mitsuki Sanada, Kazuki's cousin. Surely this time Kazuki would share with them the lunches. Their mouths began to salivate, and Kazuki shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

The lesson was finished, and it was now lunchtime. Everyone got up, and the males all began to move towards Kazuki. Kazuki looked at the clock. In about two more minutes, the "United Team Alliance"- a group of guys from each of the school's athletic teams united by infatuation with Mitsuki Sanada- would arrive to join the feeding frenzy for his lunches. They probably could arrive in one minute if they didn't change into their respective sport uniforms first, but they insisted upon wearing the uniforms when they attempted to court Mitsuki Sanada. No one ever dared to ask them how begging for a lunch she had made was courting her.

Everything was proceeding as usual, and Kazuki knew his plan would work. He pulled out his three lunches, as though he had no idea that a mass of people were about to beg for them. When he looked up, as he expected, they had formed a nearly solid wall encircling his desk. One of them said, "Kazuki, sell your lunch to me! I'll give you-" He was waving the largest denomination of currency that had yet been offered for his lunch, but was cut off by another who offered less money but added some of his lunch into the deal. This was the signal for a massive bidding war, with every offer being shouted at the same time as ten others.

Kazuki checked around the crowd. The United Team Alliance had now shown up, and injected themselves into the mess. They didn't always have more money than the other competitors, but usually had more spirit. Now there was a critical mass of contenders and passion, which meant that the guys were now more concerned with degrading the others as unworthy to consume the lunch, and no longer had their eyes upon Kazuki.

He managed to get out of the press of the crowd, somehow, like he always did. Kazuki knew that he could escape the mob, but never could hope to extract the lunches from under the eyes of the crowd. Fortunately, that was not what his plan called for. He ran for a hiding spot on campus that he had already selected- outdoors, behind a long, low building. Now he pulled out of his bag where he had hidden them the three lunches that had been made for him, and happily began to eat. As he took the first few bites, he realized that, since none of the three ladies was present, he was finally free to pick and choose the best parts of the excellent cooking from each lunch. Kazuki laughed with glee.

Mitsuki Sanada poked her head inside of Kazuki's classroom, then quickly moved her head out again. She couldn't recall why, when they made this world, they hadn't done something about those greedy guys. It was rather embarrassing to have them for a fan club, but she had no choice in the matter; they seemed to follow her around no matter how much she discouraged them. That was aside from her main purpose, though: where was Kazuki? Was he in the middle of that press? She risked another, much longer look, and saw that he was not. He'd run away-that was so like him. Where would he be now? That Kazuki was always making more trouble for her; now she had to look all over the school for him instead of just on this floor. All she had wanted to do was to say hello, and perhaps eat lunch with him. Perhaps she wouldn't have time for that anyway, though, since she was so busy and Kazuki was always such a bother. She walked away and began her search. Behind her, the mad competition continued. Not one contestant was aware that their idol had only been six feet away from them.

When first Kazuki had conceived of this plan, he had considered simply leaving behind empty boxes in the classroom, but then he reconsidered. He was Mitsuki Sanada's cousin, but he wasn't sure even that could save him from the wrath of a horde of deceived males. So he had instead emptied containers of cheap ramen noodles into lunch boxes he had disguised to look just like the ones that the ladies made for him. The only things he regretted would be that he wouldn't get to eat the noodles himself, and that Mitsuki's deserved reparation for good cooking might suffer when the guys found that today's lunches were ramen noodles randomly strewn about the lunch box.

Still, he hadn't many choices, and for now, it was a pleasure just to be free at last to eat, and the triumph of his plan was an excellent seasoning. Everything had gone perfectly.

A sudden, totally unpredicted storm blew up just then, and a torrential rain began to follow. A soaked Kazuki and three soggy lunches ran for a more sheltered hiding spot.

Chapter 4 Main Chapters Chapter 5