Chapter 2: Senpai (Senior)
“You quit right after middle school!? Seriously?”
My senior, who was stocking the sandwiches on the shelves, stopped her hands and looked at me with wide-eyes in shock.
“Really!? Damnnnn-! That’s nuts, Sayu-chaso, seriously.”
“Is it really?”
“I thought that you were the sweet and docile type. I could just feel it in your bones, you know what I mean? Oh yeah, make sure the old stock stays in the front and you put the new stock in through the back, alrighty.”
Yuuki Asami-san – She was my senior at the convenience store where I had started working at recently.
She had blonde hair and golden-brown skin. From the looks of it, I would guess that her appearance was put together at a salon. Contrary to the intensity of her hair and skin, her light makeup and her slightly narrow eyes gave her a rather neat and crisp appearance. I thought that she looked really cool like that.
I had been completely overwhelmed by the vibe that she exuded at first, but she had been teaching me everything thoroughly and, most importantly, she was also a very easy person to converse with.
“Say, why do you speak to me in such a formal way? It sounds a little weird doesn’t it, we’re the same age and all.”
“Well, you’re my senior at work after all, Yuuki-san.”
“Don’t worry about something like that. Just call me Asami.”
“Oh, okay… Ah, mm…”
I nodded my head affirmatively. Asami showed me a quick grin and hurriedly returned to stocking the sandwiches on the shelves.
“So, why didn’t-cha go to high school anyway? Did you have something else that you wanted to do?”
“Err, not really, umm… I guess I sort of just felt like it?”
“You just felt like it? Well, I guess that’s a legit reason too in the end.”
While she was smoothly running me through the basics, she would occasionally ask about myself. The intent behind these questions were a little odd though. It’s not like she held any great interest in me or anything, but it also wasn’t as though she wasn’t curious about me at all. It didn’t seem like she was asking those questions just for the sake of it either. It felt more like she was simply asking about whatever caught her interest but not so much as to overstep my bounds.
As for me having quit studying after middle-school – that was in fact a lie.
It would be too troublesome to explain that I’m currently enrolled in a high school, but wasn’t actually attending it; far from it, explaining what I was doing this far away from the school itself would put me in a real bind. Not to mention, I was really worried that coming forward with something like that would probably lead to quite a series of problematic questions. That being said, given her reaction when I said that I was a ‘middle-grad’, a choice that was unreasonably high-risk in this current day and age, it seemed like she won’t really make a fuss about it even if I told her the truth of the matter.
“It’s basically the same with everything else. Move the old ones to the front and put the new ones in through the back. Simple, isn’t it? Well, before you refresh the stock you’re supposed to properly take note of the inventory first, but until you’ve picked up some of the other basics you’re still in the okay-field.”
It’s the first time that I’ve seen a high school girl actually use the term okay-field. I couldn’t help but smirk a little as I replied to her, but luckily she hadn’t noticed it.
Asami was also 17 years old just like me. Based on her appearance and her manner-of-speaking though, I could more or less guess that she was clearly an orthodox ‘Gal” type of girl.
“By the way Sayu-chaso, where do you live?”
Uhm, ‘chaso’ was slowly edging me towards breaking into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, so I really wish you’d stop that.
“It’s about a 5 minute walk from here.”
“Oh, my house is about the same distance away too. Maybe we live really close to each other?”
“My house is in the direction of the station.”
“Ah-, so you go towards the station then. I’m in the opposite direction.”
Asami scratched her head and let out a nasal sigh as she replied.
“My house is just a few minutes of walking away from the station. Well, 5 minutes plus 5 minutes is still only a 10 minute walk to your house I guess, Sayu-chaso. That’s pretty lit.”
The conversation had been fairly casual thus far, but I felt like it was gradually going in an particularly undesirable direction.
With the way it was going, Asami’s next words would definitely be-.
“Well, I’ll come visit your place sometime, Sayu-chaso.”
This, of course.
It wasn’t “May I come?” but rather “I’ll come.”, which I thought to myself was rather like her.
I quickly showed an unperturbed smile on my face and waved my hand at her.
“Ehh, I’m not too sure about that. I’m actually living with someone else at the moment and I’m not too sure if they’d be okay with it.”
“Hm? You’re living with ‘someone’?”
Asami’s eyebrows seemed to jump at that.
“From the way you just said it, I’m guessing that this ‘someone’ isn’t really your family? So is it someone along the lines of a boyfriend?”
“No no, he’s not my boyfriend, but…”
“Not your boyfriend but also not family?”
She asked with an odd vigor in her tone.
I hesitated on how to answer her probing, when suddenly the words of a man whom I had lived with long ago came to mind.
‘When you really need to hide something badly, discreetly hide what you need to hide the most and leave the rest out in the open. You can’t look at both sides at the same time, so you’ve got to narrow the landmines that you’ve got to just one and then watch it carefully.’
That man was a rather peculiar person who had managed to maintain a relationship with seven women at the same time. His phone would keep ringing endlessly throughout the day and the caller would be a different woman each and every time. He would always say things like ‘love you dear’ and the sort while on the phone, but when he did it with me, he would only say ‘you’re cute’ and nothing more than that. Thinking back, he had really never lied needlessly.
“We’re not really blood related. He’s just an older guy that I’ve known since I was a kid.”
“An older guy that you’re not related with? That sounds a little dicey to me.”
“It isn’t dicey at all, he’s a really nice person.”
“I mean, for all you know he could just be pretending to be nice and all.”
Of course, the fact about knowing him since I was a kid was also a lie.
But I had a feeling that if I were to introduce him as family, then the lie would end up falling apart eventually.
“He hasn’t assaulted you or anything like that right? You okay?”
“I’m okay, really! He really hasn’t done anything like that at all!”
Nothing like that has happened at all, to the point where I honestly feel a little annoyed that it didn’t.
The surprising part about this conversation though, was that I had never expected Asami to have such a strong sense of virtue. I kind of had the impression that she might have been of the ‘gaudy and rebellious’ type, so the disparity between her appearance and the actual person came as a rather big surprise. On the contrary, I couldn’t help but actually consider in the back of my mind that I might be the one with a screw loose for not really feeling any particular aversion to living alone with a guy.
“Frankly speaking, Sayu-chaso, you’re a really cute girl. Normal guys would probably be turned on when they see you, not to mention that he’s not even your family.”
I thought so as well.
“Mhm, I don’t quite understand why either, but nothing like that has really happened.”
“No really, I’m sure that he’s just holding himself back for now. He’s probably the type that bares his fangs later.”
I couldn’t understand just why she was so insistent on it, but it was clear that she held not even a bit of trust in Yoshida-san, all this despite not having ever met him. I fully understood Asami’s sentiment too though; my relationship with him was anything but ordinary after all.
“Well anyway, due to some circumstances, I’ve ended up staying at his house.”
“Huh… Do your parents not have anything to say in regards to that?” She asked.
As though remembering that she still had a task to do, she continued talking while she stocked the rice balls on the shelves.
The term ‘parents’ had startled me for a brief moment, but I quickly showed a smile on my face and nodded along.
“Well my parents are the sort to live and let live, if you know what I mean.”
I turned to look at her as I spoke that, meeting Asami’s sidelong gaze head on.
Her eyes no longer showed the indifference that it carried a while ago. It was now slightly sharp and focused and I could feel that some form of sentiment was behind her gaze.
It made me jump a little internally.
“Hmm, well I guess those sorts of parents do exist after all and I guess that it isn’t too uncommon to live with someone whom you don’t really know.”
After she said that, she quickly turned away from me and went back to stocking the shelves. The mood seemed rather cutthroat just a moment ago, but now it was back to its usual calm.
Just what was that gaze earlier about?
I could clearly feel my heartbeat getting faster.
“Well, I’ll come over either way, Sayu-chaso.”
Asami muttered, then turned to face me again.
“I’d like to see for myself just what kind of person this older guy you speak of is.”
I hadn’t asked her to though.
Since it seemed like she had already made up her mind about coming to the house, I could only show a strained smile and helplessly agree. The odd pressure that was behind her words had made it hard for me to refuse her or get out of this situation.
“How ‘bout today then?”
“Our shifts end at the same time today right? I can just tag along after that then.”
I broke out into a cold sweat. Wasn’t this going a bit too fast?
“Is that guy a worker? Or maybe he’s a NEET?”
Worker or NEET? I felt that the two options that were presented were rather on the extreme ends relative to one another.
“He’s a worker, and a hard one at that.”
“So he’s the kind to still be out when you get home.”
“Then I’ll just wait till he comes back.”
Again, why was she the one calling all the shots here again? Why didn’t she ask ‘can I come?’ or ‘can I wait?’. I retorted to her internally, but I was feeling increasingly frustrated as this went on.
How should I go about explaining this to Yoshida-san.
Of course, I wanted to refuse her outright right now, but I felt like that would only make things go from bad to worse. It would be just like admitting that my relationship with Yoshida-san was one that was to be guilty or shameful about. I mean, if that were really the case then I would be fine with it; I would just ask her to not get involved any further in that case. However, our relationship really wasn’t one that carried such undertones in it, so even though I was just dealing with a senior at work right now, it would feel wrong to trample over Yoshida-san’s dignity.
After a moment of indecision-
“Well, that’s fine I guess.”
I came up with a half-baked response.
Asami then nodded and gave me a thumbs up in reply.
“Leave the rest to me.”
Leave the what?
I could only nod helplessly with a strained smile.
My part-time job would end at around 6pm and he usually comes back at around 8pm.
Once I’m done with the shift I should message him about this.
For once, I’m glad that Yoshida-san had bought me a mobile phone.
 -chaso (チャソ) is a spin of the usual -chan (チャン) suffix, due to the similarity between the -n and the -so sounds in written text.