A beautiful fine arts instructor offering private lessons; the proposition sounds both alluring, and... suspicious?
A story of the heated romance between a boy who's bored with the world around him, and a lovely girl with a devilish side.
A “Murder Recipe”, lost by one Youko Tsukimori, caused the dull everyday life of Nonomiya, a boy bored with the world, to turn upside down. His constant association with her brought several other women into the picture, including one with a certain grown-up charm—Misaki Takaoka, the fine arts teacher at Senkou Senior High. But her real reason for trying to get close to Nonomiya is...?
A large cheer rose up from the sound of boys playing baseball out on the field. In the forest in the back, the unyielding sound of cicadas drowned out everything else.
From the pool, water splashing and the lovely sound of female students having fun could be heard. Birds chirped and sang all around.
Outside the classroom it was summer; that much there was no doubting.
At that moment, summer had the world in it’s grip. It wasn’t the springtime of our life, it was the summertime.
It’s only natural then, that the classroom would also be overwhelmingly under the control of summer—hot and stuffy, and filled with idle people. We could do nothing but serve under our powerful oppressor as humble servants.
So, lumbering along like a turtle, I gazed vacantly at the cloudless sky. Setting my sights on the blazing spherical inferno reigning over the sky, I slowly opened my mouth to speak.
“…could you turn it down a bit?”
To be honest, I am not a fan of summer. More specifically, I hate the midsummer sun as if it were a mortal enemy from olden times. If I were the brave warrior and the sun the evil king, then right now I would be gathering my comrades and launching my crusade.
“My classmate Nonomiya with that childish face is super-cute. It’s dazzling even.”
While listening to me as she would a committee notification, the girl beside me let out a quiet laugh. My eyes widening, I shot a quick glance at her. Too startled to say anything, I even managed to forgot my denial.
With the regular student council meeting happening, nearly thirty boys and girls from each grade were meeting up. Each and every one of them with sweat on their brow, the shirts of their uniforms casually sticking to their skin, trying desperately to relax even just a little while steam rose noticeably off them. Then came her turn—except here the uniform was in order, the hair was in order, not one thread was out of place. Of course, on her face there wasn't even one drop of perspiration. She looked as cool and refreshed as if the rest of the world were that way.
“It seems when faced with Tsukimori Yoko who's heart is of ice, even the sun is powerless.”
“Of course, since ancient times, a frozen heart could be melted by the ‘tender kiss’ of a knightly prince.”
My sarcastic remark to Tsukimory being easily deflected, after saying “knightly princes need lots of advice” with a smile, she sneaked her hand under the table where, hidden from view, she placed it on my thigh.
Dizziness. And that's definitely not just the heat’s fault. Dizzy for all sorts of reasons, unable to focus, I could only manage an “…I think the heat’s getting to me” as I brushed Tsukimori’s hand away.
Unsure if she enjoyed the looks of disgust on people’s faces, or perhaps had the abnormal trait of gaining immense enjoyment from being treated coldly by people, Tsukimori Yoko didn't refute this claim and simply said “bully” while happily narrowing her eyes.
Ever since that midnight rendezvous at the park, it felt like the heat would rise more and more each day every time she touched me. Even if the air temperature was decidedly different, even if it became winter time, her behaviour toward me would likely not cool off.
Without saying another word, I sighed to convey my annoyance.
The committee meeting was finished. Definitely due to her accumulated karma, Tsukimori Yoko, after having just sat down, stood up again and waited expectantly for the other class council members gathered around.
Me, who lost interest the more I copied other’s karma, without hesitation abandoned her and left the classroom.
Right at this moment there came a “Sorry, I have to get to my part-time job right way.” While maintaining her cool and refreshing air, but perhaps with a heart full of purpose, she, after hurriedly saying those words, lightly ran over to my side while smiling.
“Let’s go back together Nonomiya-kun.”
Tsukimori hung onto my side quite naturally, as if that was her assigned place. Looking around to make sure bystanders were not watching our movements, she took hold of my little finger with her own.
Unbeknownst to anyone at school, having a secret relationship with me—she looked to be enjoying that considerably. As I started imagining the time leading up to winter and her growth, I forgot about the summer and flying back to the air-conditioning.
After school, we continued our bantering while walking toward the classroom through the empty corridors.
“Are you that kind of person, needing to lean on something, unable to fight the curse of not being able to walk with a straight back?”
“Feeling shy? There are only the two of us here in this corridor, so isn’t there no need to worry about something trivial like that?”
“Did you actually just call me shy? Can’t you understand yet just by looking at my face?”
“Flushed cheeks, shortened breath… yep, didn’t I hit the bullseye?”
“It’s the heat! Everyone’s been saying the heat’s making them sick, so get away from me! Right now the only reason my cheeks are flushed is because I’m angry at you!”
Taking great pains to ignore my words, she pulled right next to me, mocking me by making our bodies closer instead. The more I tried to push her away, the more she tightened her grip as we walked along the abandoned corridor, boy and girl locked in a futile battle.
When it’s this hot, what’s obviously going to happen? You become very aware of the sweat that’s coming out of every pore.
Even knowing how silly this was, with me sweating profusely and her still without even a drop of sweat on her, I couldn’t help feeling a little upset.
It was Tsukimori that gave a sign marking the end of our futile battle.
All of a sudden Tsukimori stopped moving. After making sure there was the proper amount of space between us, she put on the normal smile she usually wore. Compared with just a moment ago not even a hint of her childish behaviour could be seen. Just like an honorific you add at the end of a person’s name, “Tsukimori Youko” was here.
Imitating Tsukimori, I hurriedly straightened up and cautiously looked around. Following Tsukimori’s line of sight toward the far end of the corridor where the setting sun could be seen died in yellow and red, I could make out the slender silhouette of a person.
As if completely in tandem with us, the figure slowly approached where we were. With the sharp sound of footfalls hitting linoleum, who was this peculiar person moving smoothly toward me?
With anticipation close by, the person approaching from over there was none other than the fine arts instructor Takaoka Misaki.
The sharp sound of footfalls on linoleum—to every single student at Senkou High, this sound announced the presence of Takaoka Misaki. There was only one teacher who would wear such slender high-heeled shoes at school, and that was Takaoka Misaki.
From the outside, Takaoka Misaki didn’t look like a teacher. Just speaking of clothes, rather than a teacher, she looks more like a “beautiful girl next door”.
You could see it starting from the stilettos, the short, tight-fitting skirt and the boyfriend shirt with sleeves rolled up to her wrists, all the way up to the big hoops hanging from her earlobes. No makeup, hair looking like it was just washed, and the thing that most often made people loose their strength, regularly not having on a bra.
Not just her beauty, her lifestyle made one genuinely feel that she really is the “beautiful girl next door”.
As should be expected, in Kamogawa there were many devoted boys brimming with enthusiasm, and Takaoka Misaki’s popularity was exceptionally high. Takaoka Misaki wafted above the depressed atmosphere, adding to that she was a teacher. This kind of disparity spiced things up. I digress, but it helps make clear the strong attraction of her feminine charms.
Generally speaking, when a beauty of this calibre arrives she will be loathed by those of the same sex, but with Takaoka Misaki’s dishevelled appearance and brazen nature, she unexpectedly received favourable support from the female student body.
Be that as it may, this teacher’s non teacher-like appearance felt like heresy, and so it seems she would often receive strict warnings from the headmaster about “not being a good role model for the students”, and that kind of thing.
In this brief encounter with Takaoka Misaki, Tsukimori nodded her head politely. All of a sudden, the sound of her stilettos hitting the floor stopped.
“Hey, rumour has it that Tsukimori and Nonomiya-kun are together.”
This person who says and knows so much is none other than the one in charge of our fine-arts class, Takaoka Misaki.
“…are you dating?”
The beautifully smiling Takaoka Misaki’s large eyes squinted down on us in turn. From the apparent intense interest she was showing, it seemed she wasn’t making any effort to conceal her curiosity.
From the second button of her shirt a small crevice was visible. Spying the valley separating two well-developed mounds, I blurted out my inappropriate thought, “She really doesn’t wear bras!”
“…does it look that way?” Tsukimori Youko responded to her with a big grin plastered accross her face.
As opposed to the shocked face I had after making such a rude remark, Tsukimori didn’t seem to waver even one bit.
“Yep.” Without hesitation came the reply from Takaoka Misaki.
Because of her convincing attitude, I started getting a bad feeling deep down. Was the conversation just before with Tsukimori witnessed by her? From another perspective it could be seen as a “flirting couple”, and it really wasn’t impossible.
On the other hand, Tsukimori Youko was incapable of betraying the “secret” by carelessly being witnessed. In that case, on what basis could Takaoka Misaki put forward such a question? These were the thoughts burning through my mind.
“Well now, if that’s honestly said, I can’t help but feel joy.”
“Wow, Tsukimori’s heartfelt appraisal of Nonomiya-kun is really high.”
“Hehe, Misaki-sensei, don’t you know? Nonomiya-kun is unexpectedly popular.”
“Ah, it’s true that Nonomia-kun’s looks aren’t bad, and his personality doesn’t seem to be messed up either. That’s definitely good.”
‘Well now’, ‘wow’, ‘hehe’, ‘Ah’. At first glance this was nothing more than a peaceful chat, but for some reason my throat was getting very dry. What flashed across my mind was ‘two sly foxes waging negotiations’.
While I didn’t know what the true line of thinking behind Tsukimori’s words were, I could tell that Misaki-sensei was having a true heart-to-heart with Tsukimori.
The words easily understood were, “What does this dangerously sly female fox really want?”
“…right, is it true what they say, that Tsukimori’s parents died?”
I caught a bad vibe just there from Takaoka Misaki’s words. It seemed Tsukimori felt the same bad vibe. “…yes.” Unlike before, she hesitated a moment before answering.
“…well, I guess there must be some painful memories there, no?”
“Yes, that’s true. All kinds…”
Strictly speaking, even if her outward appearance was that of a brazen woman, Takaoka Misaki was in any case a teacher. Hearing about the sad things that happened to a student’s family and worrying about that student’s mental state wasn’t really strange. The biggest question was the timing.
With slow movements, Takaoka Misaki shook her fingers through her hair while gently forming a smile.
“…and yet, it seems like you’ve already gotten over it completely.”
Right now it was the last part of July just before summer vacation. The death of Tsukimori Youko’s parents had happened around the end of May, close to two months ago. Even if this was at school, a month had past since news of the death of Tsukimori’s parents had spread through the “Senkou High Gazette”. By now, the whole thing had already become a distant memory, relegated to the past.
“Not just students, the other teachers as well don’t think they could be like Tsukimori. Generally speaking, a person at your age wouldn’t be able to stay that calm after the death of their parents. Tsukimori is really quite incredible.”
Not waiting, Takaoka Misaki made a show of swinging around and asking me, who wasn’t sure why I was being targeted, “Doesn’t Nonomiya-kun think so too?” After tightening my jaw for just a second, I gave a neutral reply in a neutral-sounding voice: “Not sure, I don’t really understand what you mean.”
“Recovering this quickly isn’t something I could do on my strength alone. I’ve recieved help from countless individuals.”
Not waiting either, Tsukimori Youko turned and used me as a blocker saying, “Of course, Nonomiya-kun is one of those individuals.” For just a moment my eyes narrowed in surprise and, once again with an even, smooth and neutral-sounding voice, I replied with, “If that’s what she says, that must be how it is.”
“…huh, like that eh.”
Takaoka Misaki’s eyes narrowed in an arch. A smile came upon those sensuous lips. For just a moment, a frigid feeling from this woman shook my heart.
…this woman, don’t tell me she’s become suspicious of something regarding the death of Tsukimori’s parents?
…no, that’s not possible.
I rejected it immediately.
There’s only one person on this planet that doubts Tsukimori Youko—only me and no one else.
But, even if that’s the case, I couldn’t just ignore Takaoka Misaki’s concealed manner. Concidering the goal-oriented murder recipe I was holding on to, there was no helping the thought of ‘definitely suspicious’.
I didn’t know near enough about this woman. And an unknown enemy stirring up unfamiliar conversation didn’t allow for coming up with a plan. After properly investigating this woman, it would be possible to review and then come up with some plans.
If this unexpected situation was winding down… my anxiety was just starting.
“…now then, Misaki-sensei, I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse us first. ‘We’ still have part time jobs after this.”
With this, Tsukimori said, “Let’s quickly get going Nonomiya-kun.” A gentle smile was there, like the rays of sunshine streaming through the gaps in the leaves on the trees.
Truly admirable. Tsukimori Youko was completely unshaken. Besieged by the enemy, faced with the biggest problem in the world, and in this kind of situation, one could say she was the most powerful support there was.
“Oh my, in that case sorry for holding you up. But let Nonomiya-kun stay behind, I have something I need him for you see.”
Takaoka Misaki on the other hand wasn’t backing down.
“Really, Nonomiya-kun, you don’t want to? Sensei here is hurt. Do you still remember the ‘drawn character sketch’ you handed in early today?”
“It was really bad! Really, really bad! Since becoming a fine arts instructor, I’ve seen many, many drawings, but Nonomiya-kun’s achievement is especially bad. I can vouch for that.”
Being told this with an earnest expression, I couldn’t help but avert my eyes. Even though I knew myself how bad my art was compared to others, having it pointed out so bluntly really put me down.
“…when speaking to others, there are things everyone knows are proper or improper to say.”
To the me who was trying to defend myself came, “No, no. I think the bad in this kind of situation, the enthusiasm from yours truly can have a big impact. That’s way I came from the fine arts room to deliver a speech to Nonomiya-kun.”
With a smile slowly emerging, Takaoka Misaki was using both hands to tie off the ability to carry out my desire to escape.
“That’s why Tsukimori, could you pass on this message to the place where you work? ‘Because a teacher summoned him, Nonomiya-kun won’t be coming today.’”
At the same time she said this, she was pulling me over firmly. Possibly because of what was blockin the view, I could feel firm sensation swelling up around my wrist, leaving me speachless.
“…this kind of thing can’t be helped. I’ll definitely pass on the message.”
Tsukimori said this with a light smile, the kind that expressed a slight amazement. Shaking her always glossy fine black hair, she then valiantly turned around and left.
I cautioned a sideways glance to confirm what expression Tsukimori had. It seemed like there was no mistaking it. In the quick look she threw me while making her exit, Tsukimori Youko’s eyes were not smiling.
[This short story is unfinished...]
[Source: Baka-Tsuki, Please visit link: http://www.baka-tsuki.org/project/index.php?title=Gekkou:The_Stubborn_Will_of_the_Crescent_Moon]