Chapters 1-8 are on the side projects label.
After school the next day. Masashi changed his school uniform to casual clothes at home, then took a taxi to Naoko-sensei's house.
A girl he hadn't seen before opened the door. "Excuse me, who are you looking for?"
Wrong address? He checked the house number again. "I am looking for Naoko-sensei."
"Sister? Who are you?"
So this is her younger sister. "My name is Hirota Masashi, a student of your sister."
"Oh, then come on in. She's taking a bath."
A white puppy ran over and stared at him with caution.
The girl picked it up and said. "Shasha, greet nii-san." The puppy actually barked.
Masashi smiled bitterly. When did I become brothers with a dog.
"Ai-chan, was someone on the door?" Naoko-sensei came out in a bathroom before long.
"You're here. Can you wait a bit? I will go get changed." She was pleasantly surprised to see Masashi.
"Take your time."
She returned to a room.
"Your name's Hirota Masashi? Are you close with my sister?"
"Probably, I am her student after all."
"But she had never brought any boys home. You're the first one."
"Oh, is that so." Masashi didn’t know how to reply.
Ai studied him seriously. "But you don't look handsome, and so short. Nee-san wouldn't like people like you. I probably thought too much."
Masashi felt a headache. Why do kids today know so much at an early age.
"Hey, do you play games? I bought a new one today. Come over here." Before Masashi could answer, she dragged him over to the TV and threw him a controller.
Masashi didn't know whether to laugh or cry and started playing with her.
The previous Hirota Masashi was a gamer. Even though he was dead, the memory was still there. It was rare for Ai to find someone that could play so well.
As they were engrossed in the game, Naoko came out. "Masashi, let's go."
He looked at her. Light make up on the face, a light green one piece dress showing her curves, and a pair of stockings on her long legs made them look delicious.
Ai saved the game and yelled. "Nee-san, you're pretty."
Naoko glanced at Masashi and blushed a bit when she noticed he was looking with a sense of appreciation.
"Nee-san, where are you going?"
"Have you forgotten? I told you yesterday that I am having dinner with someone tonight. That's Masashi. I have called sushi for you. It should be here in a bit."
"I don’t want sushi. I want to go with you."
"Because… just no."
"I want to go." Ai raised her hands in protest.
"Can you please listen?"
"I want to go."
Naoko looked at Masashi in defeat. He spread his hands and said. "I don't mind."
The three of them came to a fancy restaurant. The two beauties attracted everyone's eyeballs and the average looking Masashi was ignored.
"I don’t like these people, keep staring over." Ai was unhappy being stared at.
"You should be happy. They won't even bother to take a look at people like me." Masashi said lazily.
"That's true." Her expression flipped instantly.
"Masashi, I heard you have a sister, right?" Naoko asked.
"Yes. Hirota Kazumi. She doesn't like to talk but her grades are much better than mine."
"You probably feel lonely because your parents are not home often."
Masashi paused. He never thought of this problem. It didn't matter much to him because he was accustomed to being along all these years. But what about Kazumi? She was just a teen. Furthermore, she probably didn’t have many friends to talk to with that quiet personality of hers. Mom was also alone these years, maybe more lonely than them. I should think of a way to reunite the family.
Naoko glanced at Masashi when he was thinking. This mature expression attracted her.
"Hey, why aren't you two talking?"
"Oh, right. Ai, what do you want to eat?" Naoko was shocked.
"Didn’t you just ordered?"
"Ah, sorry. I forgot."
"Sis, you are weird today."
The waiter brought the dishes and Ai immediately started eating.
"Masashi, would you like a glass of wine? The wine here are quite famous."
Masashi smiled at her. "Sensei, are you sure?"
She remembered that he was still a high school student. How could she had suggested her student to drink alcohol?
Masashi said to the waiter. "Please bring us two glasses of your house wine."
"I also want one." Ai said.
"Not for children."
"What are you talking about? I am in high school just like you." She was angry.
"What? Aren't you a middle schooler?" Masashi acted shocked.
"You… are terrible." Ai gritted her teeth.
Naoko didn’t say anything. She looked at Masashi with complex feelings as she realized she was treating him like a man her age or even more mature. That young face made her feel frightened.
"Ai, it's you." A boy walked over as they were eating.
"Oh, it's Yousuke. You're here also." Ai said with surprise.
"Yeah, what a coincidence. I thought I got the wrong person. When did you come here?" He looked quite excited.
"Not for long."
"I came here with my cousin. These two are?" He looked at Naoko and Masashi.
"She's my sister and this is her student, a not likeable person." Ai was still holding a grudge.
"Ai, that's impolite of you. Hi, Yousuke, I am Ai's sister, Hasebe Naoko. He's Hirota Masashi, my student. Thank you for taking care of Ai." Naoko said with a smile.
"That's too polite of you." Yousuke blushed when he looked at Naoko.
"Yousuke, care to introduce these two beautiful ladies?" A slender and rather handsome man walked over.
"This is Hasabe Ai, my classmate. This is her sister, Naoko-san. And this is Naoko-san's student. Hirota Ma... Ma…"
"Hirota Masashi." Masashi said with a smile.
"Right, hirota Masashi." Yousuke looked at him gratefully.
"Hello, I am Yousuke's cousin, Hinatsu Junichiro. Glad to meet you." He said with politeness but his eyes were fixed on Naoko.
He had been paying attention to this woman ever since she walked into the restaurant. He originally wanted to find a chance to meet her but his cousin actually knew them. He thought that the gods were on his side.
"Hi, Hinatsu-san." Naoko said.
"Please call me Junichiro. That's what my friends call me." He smiled. He was rather confident with his charm.
However, Naoko didn't have any reaction.
"Would you be interested to come sit with us? Yousuke would be very glad."
"Hinatsu-san, my student is still here, so I won't bother you."
"Is that so? Then I hope to see you again."
After they left, Ai said. "Nee-san, why didn’t you go over? Yousuke's cousin looks pretty good. And he seems interested in you. I would go if I were you."
"I won't stop you from going over. You classmate is there also."
"But he's inviting you."
"Ai-chan, you can't just look at the surface of a person."
"You're preaching again." Ai buried herself in food.
"Masashi, would you like anything else? Don't hold back."
Masashi shook his head. "No, I am almost full."
Naoko drove Masashi back to his house then returned home with Ai.
When Masashi walked pass Kazumi's room, she was still studying.
He wanted to give ReiLi a call but remembered he promised Kazumi to not make any international calls.
Masashi entered a mall and looked around. He went straight to the mobile stall.
"Hello, are you looking to buy a cellphone? We have many of the newest. Please take a look." The sales was pretty enthusiastic.
"Which one's better?"
"What kind of phones are you looking for? This is the newest smartphone with 3G, MP3 capability, camera, internet, and many other functions. And this one is suitable for active people, you can hang it on your ear."
Seeing that Masashi wasn’t looking interested, she took out several other.
Masashi was getting drowsy. He waved his hand and said. "Ok, stop. My requirement is simple, as long as it can make a call. Just pick one for me. Also set everything up. I need to make a call now."
"You want me to pick one? That isn’t too…"
"Faster, I am in a hurry." Masashi was getting impatient.
"Then.. what about this one? It has…"
"Fine, this one." Masashi interrupted her and handed over a credit card.
The saleswoman's expression changed when she saw the credit card. She knew this was a platinum card from Tokyo bank. She didn’t expect this average looking high schooler was so rich, and regretted not picking the most expensive phone.
Masashi didn’t know the bank gave him this kind of card. He disliked showing off like a nouveau.
"Hello, who is this?" ReiLi sounded calm.
"Hei, it's me."
"Shishou, didn’t expect you to call me so fast. You start to miss me? Told you I should have stayed with you for few more days." In the tone of girl complaining.
Masashi laughed. "Stop the bullshit. I have something I need you to do."
"What is it?" ReiLi turned serious.
"Help me find a person. Nagakawa Kyuujirou from Hokkaido. If he's still alive, he should be 70 by now."
"Is he an enemy?"
"No, a friend. I owe him something. It's time to return it."
"Ok, I will send people immediately."
"Oh, I bought a new phone. Call this number if you have anything."
It's twenty years already. Hope he's still alive.
The school had returned to normal. News reporters no longer wait at the entrance. People seemed to have forgotten Yamamoto after three months. Masashi was like a regular student and went to school on time. But he was either reading novels in class or sleeping.
One day, he got woke up by loud noises. The students seemed excited.
"What happened?" He asked the girl next to him.
"Didn’t you hear? We are going to Okinawa for summer trip."
"A day before summer vacation begins. The trip is three days."
Japanese kids had summer and winter vacations and could join this type of trips. But the trip cost 20,000 Yen for each person.
After coming home, Masashi knocked Kazumi's door.
he handed her 30,000 Yen. "Your class is also going to Okinawa right? This is for the trip."
"Mom give them to you?"
"No, this is from my part time. Don't worry. The money is clean."
"Does mom know?" Kazumi hesitated.
"She doesn’t know about me working part time. I have no use for money anyway. I just want to help with her burden. Promise me, don’t tell her, ok?"
She looked at him with complex feelings. "Ok, but it's too much."
"This rest is your allowance. You are a girl after all." Masashi smiled and left.
Kazumi stared at his back in a daze.
Two days later, the finals grades came out. Masashi was in the middle of the ranking as he expected. And Kazumi was at the top.
The next day, Masashi and Kazumi entered the airport and saw the teacher holding a flag like a tour guide.
"Masashi, you're here." Naoko smiled.
"Hello, Naoko-sensei." This was the first time he saw her in a casual attire.
"You're Kazumi? Masashi mentioned you. You have great grades and are very smart."
Kazumi wondered when did he get so close to Naoko-sensei.
The students were loud during the flight. And several pervs kept asking the hostesses to bring them water.
Naoko also had her problems as the male teachers tried to flatter her to tell bad jokes.
While no one was noticing, Naoko left her seat and came to the empty seat next to Masashi.
Seeing he was well asleep, she almost wanted to pinch him.
After settling in a hotel, the teachers brought the students to the dining hall.
"So many foreigners."
"It's a black. The first time I have seen one."
The students quieted down from seeing so many foreigners.
The teachers announced that everyone could go play by the beach, but must gather in front of the hotel at 6pm.
"Look at that foreign woman. So big."
"Baka, that one's big. Like two basketballs."
"Boys are pervs." A girl said.
"All men are like this. Right, Kazumi?"
"Oh." Kazumi replied absent mindedly.
"Kazumi, are you looking for someone?"
"No, just looking around."
Where is him? Can't find him anywhere.
Naoko was looking for Masashi at the same time.
After getting no result from asking around, Naoko was getting worried.
"I will give him a lesson if I ever see that brat again. How could he ask what insecticide I was using. It makes me rage."
"Why did you bother trying to pick up a brat. So many handsome guys here."
"It's not a pick up. I was just trying to tease him since he looked like he didn’t give a fuck about anyone."
"Alright, alright. Let's go find a good man."
Two girls in bikini walked by.
Naoko's eyes lit up and walked to where they came from.
She found Masashi sitting on a big rock by the ocean with a campfire in front. Several fish were roasting on the fire.
Naoko calmed down as soon as he saw Masashi.
She tip toed over but when she was still ten meters away, Masashi turned around.
"Oh, it's Naoko-sensei."
"Didn’t expect you to hide here. You made me look all over."
"Looking for me? Anything you want?"
"Do I have to need something to look for you?"
Masashi laughed. "Want to try? Just caught these fish and they taste pretty good." He handed over a fish on a stick.
"Can you really eat them like this?"
"This is the most authentic beach style." He took a bite.
"You brought alcohol?" After a few bites, Masashi took out a bottle of spirit.
"How can you have meat and not alcohol?"
Chinese baijiu were like day and night from Japanese sake.
"Where did you get the alcohol?"
"Bought them in the hotel. Sensei, you want a glass?"
"That's over your boundary. You're still a high schooler. How can you drink? And it's spirit." She had forgotten about the dinner.
Masashi laughed. "High schoolers nowadays don't have much interest in drinking anymore. Do you know how many are activing in red light districts? And how many sell compensated dates in Shibuya?"
Tokyo was a highly developed city and also very easy for someone to lose themselves.
"Don't forget about Yamamoto and his friends are also high schoolers."
Naoko had no words in reply. "Not everyone is like this. At least, there are still many nice people in the world."
"Whatever, enough of this. We should enjoy this amazing scenery. This isn't school, so just pretend you don’t see it."
Perhaps due to the alcohol, Masashi had a strange impulse when he looked at Naoko. He cursed himself for getting out of his mind.
Naoko didn’t stop him anymore and just watched as he drank.
"Sensei, want to try some sea urchins?"
Masashi opened up the urchin and poured some water on it.
"Just like this? Aren't you going to cook it?"
"This is the best way. Try it."
Naoko tried it with a little hesitation. It was a little fishy at first then an amazing flavor filled her mouth.
Masashi smiled. "Want more?"
Naoko nodded lightly.
The two of them walked over to the shallow water area. Masashi taught her to catch fish. Naoko felt like she had returned to her childhood.
After dinner, the students went out to the streets in groups.
Masashi didn’t have such habit so he returned to his room to train. However, someone knocked on the door.
"Sensei, what's it?"
"Can you take a walk with me?"
"But I am sleeping." Masashi yawned.
"It's only 7pm. How can a young man be so lazy. Hurry up."
"But I am really sleepy. Can I not go?"
"Fine, just let a girl walk the dark streets alone. I heard other than some occasional robberies and murders, the safety in Okinawa is pretty good. Masashi, go sleep. I won't blame you if anything happens."
"Sensei, can you wait a bit? I need to get changed." Masashi sighed.
"What do you change for? Are you going to sleep?"
"Sensei, I am really going to sleep if you continue."
Naoko laughed in a smirk.
The two of them came to the most crowded street.
"There seems to be a performance in front. Let's go take a look." Naoko dragged Masashi over.
Performers were singing and dancing in exotic clothes and instruments. The audiences also clapped their hands with the rhythm.
Naoko listened for a bit and couldn’t make out what they were singing. "Do you know what they are singing?"
"They are singing in their local dialect. I also don't understand it."
"Perhaps this is uchina pop. I heard this is the traditional dances of Okinawa, but this is the first time I have seen it."
"It is uchina pop. The instrument with three strings is shamisen and that drum is taiko."
"How do you know these?"
"A friend once told me."
"Your friend is from Okinawa?"
"No, he's from Hokkaido, but he likes to travel. So he had seen this performance."
Naoko felt that Masashi looked a little down when he mentioned this friend.
"Let's go, I will treat you a cup of coffee."
"You can get coffee anywhere. We should take a look at the handcraft shops."
Naoko stroke the doll excitedly after coming out of the shop.
"How come I don’t see anything fun about this thing?"
"Don’t you feel it looks kawaii? It looks just like you."
"You're kidding. Which part of me looks like it."
"Don't you think your facial expressions are similar? You look just like the doll when you don’t laugh."
Masashi never knew that dolls had expressions.
Suddenly, a figure ran pass them followed by a yell. "Robbery, help…" A fat woman was panting as she ran.
It's just robbery, not taking your meat.
"Masashi, what should we do?" Naoko looked at him nervously.
What does this have to do with me? He sighed when he looked at her eyes and walked over to the vending machine.
"Borrow me." He grabbed a can of unopened soda from a girl in front of the machine, then threw it at the robber.
The dude fell to the ground like a dead pig without even a scream.
"Sensei, let's go." Masashi grabbed Naoko's hand and silently walked away.
"But what if that person has a weapon? That woman's in danger."
"He's knocked out."
Masashi nodded. Even though it was dark but that was not a problem for the trained. He aimed it at the back of the robber's head and should knock him out for two to three days. The after effects were not his problem.
When he walked pass the girl, Masashi threw her a 100 Yen coin.
"For your soda."
The teachers organized the students to visit various attractions in Okinawa the next two days.
Masashi had no interest in the streets or aquariums. However, he tended to stand in places like Tamaudun, Shureimon, and Shuri Castle for half a day a time.
"Masashi, what's wrong? Are you not feeling well?" Naoko had been paying attention to him when he was standing absent minded.
"I am fine."
"Why are your hands so cold?" She touched his forehead.
Masashi felt a little warmth in his heart.
"I am really fine. Thank you, sensei."
"I will accompany you back to the hotel. You should take a rest."
"No, let's go."
Suddenly, they heard a series of barking.
"Sorry, it's my phone." Masashi was a little embarrassed.
Naoko laughed. It was the first time she saw this kind of expression from him.
"Is it Hei?"
"I found the person."
Masashi took a breath. "Is he dead?"
"Yes, Nagakawa Kyuujirou died five years ago, in his home in Hokkaido."
"How did he die?"
"Heart attack. We checked the hospital records, nothing suspicious."
"Good people don't live long." Masashi smiled bitterly.
ReiLi knew the weight of old friends to his shishou.
"Does he have families?"
"Two sons. One is a sheriff and one is a manager in a small business. Two grandsons and a granddaughter still in school."
"See if they have any difficulties. Help them if they do. Give me his address later, I need to visit Hokkaido once."
"Ok, shishou. Take care."
Masashi stood there silently after hanging up.
"What's wrong?" Naoko held his hand.
"I am fine."
"It's ok if you don’t want to say. I just want you to know there are people who care about you."
"Thank you, sensei. Please let the teachers know I am going back to the hotel."
"I will go with you."
"No, it's your first time in Okinawa, you should have fun." He walked away without waiting for a reply.
Naoko sighed as she stared at his back. "Baka, how can I have fun if you are not here."
The three day trip ended quickly.
During the return, everyone carried bags of souvenirs like a refugee.
Masashi was the only one that left the way he came.
When everyone was chatting about their trip, Naoko kept her eyes on Masashi. He hadn’t smiled after taking that call.
What happened to him?
Back at school. Naoko found Masashi and slipped a piece of paper into his hand and said in a low voice. "If you need any help or someone to talk, just call me. It is my home number."
Masashi paused and just realized she was worrying about him the whole time.
"Thank you." He looked at this kind hearted woman gently.