Hitomi listened to the glaring sound of all of her alarms going off at once. It was painful, yet every time she went to shut it off she pulled her hand back in the hopes that maybe they would turn off and she could go back to sleep. But this was dangerous. Not only would her father know that she was already up and trying to skip, her mother knew as well. Smoke. “Oh no.” Hitomi threw her blankets off, but it was already too late. A small cylinder rolled under her door and exploded in a puff of dense gas. The girl rushed to the window and opened it with every ounce of power she could muster. It left the room like it appeared. Hitomi could hear the neighbors panicking. The smoke spread out and disappeared into the aether before anyone could get a picture. “Mom!” Hitomi yelled as she closed the window. The door to her room opened, showing her mom with a smile that lacked any sign of regret. “Why?”
“I had it and it seemed like it’d get you up. I wouldn’t even be here if your father didn’t think you’d need a little help getting up today.” Her logic was sound, so Hitomi couldn’t argue with it. Instead, she let out the biggest sign she could.
“I’ll be done in a minute.”
“Anything you want for breakfast while I’m here?”
“Anything? Pancakes would be nice.”
“Since I woke you up in such a strange way, I’ll make you some of the best pancakes. Sound fair?”
“No, but I’ll forgive you.”
“Thank you. Take your time.” Her mother closed the door leaving Hitomi to get ready for the day. The anxiety of the day had woken her up far enough in the past to not leave her foggy. The stunt from her mother gave her an extra boost of adrenaline. One she didn’t need but it certainly helped. By the time she made her way downstairs, the sweet smell of the pancakes had already filled the house. In terms of cooking skills there was no contest who was the best.
“Did you make enough for Rose?”
“Is she going to be here? Hmmm, I’ll have to make another batch. Seto, why didn’t you tell me?”
“Mph..” He tried to talk while his mouth was full but quickly stopped. “Sorry about that. I had planned on telling you, but I got a bit caught up eating.”
“Geez. Well, no harm now. Eat to your heart's content. I’ll keep cooking as long as there are mouths to feed.” Her mother flexed with one arm while she mixed with the other. As promised, she served both Hitomi and Seto with pancakes as long as they kept eating them. After about two pancakes there was a soft knock at the door. “Come in!” Rose entered the house and took in the sweet smell around her.
“That smells nice. Crepes?”
“Mrs. Kagami!” Rose ran into the kitchen. Mrs.Kagami hugged her with one hand as she hugged her back. “How are you?”
“I’m great. You are looking healthy yourself. You probably already ate, but help yourself.”
“Okay.” Rose took a seat at the table next to Hitomi, who had finished her third pancake in the time it took for Rose to sit down. “I thought I’d have to drag you out of bed.”
“That would be a blessing compared to what happened.” Rose tilted her head in confusion but no one elaborated. Before she could voice her questions a pancake was placed in front of her and everything else became secondary. “You are such a simple person.”
“Nothing wrong with that.” Her father said in the best ‘wise man’ tone he could.
“Delicious! Where did you learn to make them like this?” With both of them ignored, Mrs. Kagami couldn’t help but laugh.
“Something I picked up in America.”
“America? I see.” Rose contemplated on the diversity of cuisine for a few seconds before she found the concept to complicated for her so early in the morning and returned her full attention to eating. The three of them ate the rest of the time in silence, only talking once they all had their fill. “I don’t think I’ll need to buy lunch today.”
“You ate as much as my dad and you already had breakfast.”
“Well you ate twice as much as I did.”
“I have track practice after this… trip.” Hitomi had managed to avoid thinking about it ever since she started eating, but the anxiety was beginning to worm its way back into her. “Maybe I should go back to bed.”
“Come on, you said you’d be ready. Would it make it better to bring Mr. Kagami along with us?” The question caught both Hitomi and Seto off guard. His response was almost immediate.
“Oh well look at the time. I need to get started on looking over that last chapter I wrote. Thanks for the food dear. It was great.” With incredibly nimble motions, he picked up and dropped of his plate, and walked into the workroom on the first floor. It was so quick that no one had the time to stop him.
“Your father is still quite bad at dealing with crowds if I’m not there to calm him down. It was important to get you used to it while you were long to not end up like that.”
“It’s still terrible. If Rose wasn’t there-”
“But she is, so make the most out of it. Have fun! You guys are going to the museum in the city right? Mess with the security guards, touch all the glass, you are kids, you can get away with it.”
“Mom, we aren’t deliquets. Plus we will be in small groups.”
“Even better, get them to join you. Doesn’t that sound like fun Rose?” Rose looked back and forth between Hitomi and her mother, unsure how to answer. Since she couldn’t think of a good answer she gave the best answer she could think of in the moment.
“We’ll have fun. Um, I can promise that? Yeah, I can promise that.” She gave a thumbs up, trying to cover for her own confusion.
“That’s good enough. I’m sure you’ll have fun. You too Hitomi. Even if it seems bad, you’ll manage and have a good time.”
“I have a hard time believing that.”
“It’s ok HItomi. I give you my word. I’ll make sure you have fun.” Rose spoke seriously, but quickly regained her cheerful tone. “We’ll miss the bus if we take any longer.” She pointed to the clock, and then to her hand as if she had a watch on. Hitomi couldn’t even stall any longer if she wanted to, as unless she sprinted to the gates with Rose on her back, the two of them had to leave now to be on time.
“Hitomi you can do it! I have to return to work today, but I plan to make something for dinner. Think of it as your silver lining; a reward for making it through today.”
“I’d rather you promise that you will come home quickly.” HItomi hugged her mother one last time before she had to go.
“I’ll do my best. So you do yours.”
“Right. Come on Rose, I’m ready.” With her mind fortified she grabbed her backpack and followed Rose outside the house. Her friend had already grabbed her scooter so that they could get going right away. “We really are cutting it close today.”
“It was worth it to eat those pancakes. Assuming we don’t show up late.”
“I wouldn’t be disappointed if we missed the bus.”
“I’ll just have to pick up the pace then! I might be slow, but with this I can speed past you!” Rose tried to speed ahead of Hitomi. Not letting herself be beaten, Hitomi kept up the pace by breaking into a run. “This is truly unfair. How are you so fast.”
“Can’t talk…” Even if she wanted to play it off like she wasn’t putting in a lot of effort she couldn’t speak properly while running. Soon Rose was in a similar position. By the time that both of them were at the school gates, they both had to stop to recover. “Why didn’t you slow down?”
“You already know the answer to that. Why didn’t you slow down?”
“I’m competitive. At least we are way earlier than we thought.”
“I guess so, but I know I’m really thirsty. Think I have time to get a drink?”
“Let’s not waste time. Umm.. no one around us knows where a water fountain is.”
“That’s fine. There is usually one near the bathrooms.” Rose ran ahead, and Hitomi followed right behind her. Despite how late they set out, the speed they came to school with actually allowed them to arrive while many others were. The halls were noisy with chatter and laughter. Rose found the water fountain before the first bell could ring. “Wow, we really are early huh? I thought for sure we’d be super late.”
“I wish we were.”
“Hitomi, you said you’d do this. No escaping now.”
“I’m not going to run away. You wouldn’t be able to catch me if I did anyway.” Hitomi laughed nervously. She was unable to get rid of the gloom over her, but she did her best for Rose’s sake. The two of them went to their homeroom before the second bell could ring. The energy in the class was similar to the first day. With so much buzz, Hitomi only fell further into her seat as the reality set in.
“Y-you can do it. I’m right here.”
“Thank you.” That’s all Hitomi could say as she concentrated on ignoring the voices that flooded her mind. If it wasn’t for Mr. Yamata entering the classroom. The daily announcements were kept short. Even he knew that keeping them bottled up here when they were this excited was a bad idea.
“I know you are all excited to leave. Your first field trip of your middle school life. But as you probably expected, you won’t just be there to have fun.” Mr. Yamata took out a large stack of papers, causing a collective complaint from the class. “Now now, it’s nothing too hard. It’s just a few questions about what you see. As long as you pay attention you’ll get it done with plenty of time to see the things you want to see. Let’s see, you guys have groups that you’ll be in. I’ll call out your groups now. As I call you, please line up here so you can leave together.” There was only enough people in the class for a few small groups to be formed, but the the two of them sat there to the very end as they waited for their names to be called. “That leaves you four. Rose Edith, HItomi Kagami, Natsu Mori, and Ken Hayashi. I was asked to keep your group small, so I hope this is fine with you HItomi.”
“Thank you for your consideration.”
“Natsu, I hope you’ll keep this group in check. Think of this as your first real job as student president.”
“Yes Mr. Yamata.” She stood up and moved to the front of the room. The other three did the same, and followed Mr. Yamata to the bus. Since they were the last ones to arrive, they had to take the seats near the front with the other teachers. Before they could even sit down, Natsu directed Ken to sit with the teachers, as only three people fit per row. “I don’t think we’ve ever had the chance to talk. I’m Natsu Mori. You can call me Natsu.” While this was their first time meeting, the two of them knew more about her than she knew about them. Regardless, Rose introduced herself with her usual energy.
“Hello! I’m Rose and this is Hitomi. She’s not good around a lot of people, so I’ll handle talking for her. That’s ok right Hitomi?” Hitomi nodded her head, but spoke to Rose using her curse.
‘Please do. It’s… hard enough as is to not crumble into a ball and cry.’
“I suppose that’s fine. I was told beforehand that I’d have to look after a small group of students myself. But why are you here Rose? I’m sure you’d be fine in a large group.”
“Hitomi and I are like peas in a pod. Did I say that right?”
“Yeah, peas in a pod. I’m more wondering about Ken Hayashi.”
“Oh him? He’s just uhhh… difficult to deal with. I’m not saying you two are just as hard to deal with, but-”
“We’ll do our best to not be a bother. We just want to see cool things.” Natsu let out a soft laugh. It was in contrast to the usual serious expression she had. “Ummm… did I say something funny?”
“No, I’m sorry, that seemed rude.”
‘She is so use to dealing with people that lack your purity. I would probably laugh too.”
“It wasn’t rude at all. It’s nice to be able to talk to you. Usually all I see of you is the start of the day.” Hitomi was distracting herself with the conversation between the two of them and Rose picked up on this. The sound of the bus flared up, making it even easier to ignore the voices she heard.
“I really should talk to everyone in our class. It’s important to know them all for my role.”
“It’s ok! You still have a lot of time left in the year. We just started a week ago.”
“Really? It’s feels like it’s been so much longer. I heard that this class had a lot of smart people that score well so I’ve been studying more than usual.”
“Hitomi is really smart! I don’t think she’s ever gotten below a perfect grade!”
‘Nothing has been really that hard so far. I’m really not that smart.’ Hitomi tried to explain why she wasn’t as great as Rose said, but since she couldn’t get the words out of her mouth she ended up just saying it to Rose. She cursed her own inability to speak up in public before sulking in her seat.
“The quiet ones usually are the smart ones. What about you Rose?”
“I’m dumb, but I try really hard. I can’t get perfect grades, but I usually do well.”
“Huh.” Natsu sat there with a look of both admiration and shock. Rose looked over at Hitomi motioning to tell her why she looked like that.
‘Relying on me to help you with social cues isn’t healthy.’ Rose stuck her tongue out at Hitomi before turning back to Natsu.
“I’m surprised you can whisper to each other with this noise.”
“Oh it’s-” Hitomi poked Rose on the side to tickle her. It was the only thing she could do without her body blocking the response. Rose was quick to pick up on why she was doing so and made up the best lie she could. “Something we practice a lot since she’s bad in public.”
“You two sure are close. Were you born here in Japan?”
“Nope. I was actually living in England until I was five. I’m sorry if my Japanese isn’t very good.”
“It’s fine. Very impressive actually. I was just wondering how long you’ve known each other.”
“Six years. Do you have any close friends?”
“Not really. I actually went to a private school for elementary. Ahh, why am I telling you this?!”
‘She is caught off guard by how easy it is to talk to you. Try making light jabs at her. Wait- ” Rose followed what Hitomi suggested, but she messed up the meaning. Instead of making sly comments, she started to act like she was a boxer punching at Natsu.
“What are you doing?”
“Making light jabs at you.” Both Natsu and Hitomi laughed at how honest Rose admitted it. Confused, Rose looked at Hitomi, who stopped laughing to not seem mean.
“Rose, when someone says that, they mean like playful insults. Not punches.”
“Oh. Sorry, I’m not good with my idioms. That makes way more sense now.” Rose nodded her head, committing this idiom to memory as to not make the mistake again. “Thanks for correcting me.”
“It’s nothing really.” Hitomi could tell that even though Natsu understood that Rose was easy to talk to, it was another thing entirely to handle someone as positive. “I have a feeling that I’m going to get a good night’s sleep tonight.”
“That’s good. Getting a good night’s sleep is always nice.”
“Right… Umm, should we do something different when we get to the museum?”
“Like what?!” Rose immediately attached to the idea of doing something differently. The very idea of having a unique experience was too tempting for her.
“Ah. Um. Eh.” Natsu didn’t expect such an enthusiastic response to what she thought was a fairly logical step. “I-I think we are thinking about different things.”
‘Yes.’ Hitomi confirmed it, just in case Rose had any doubt.
“Like, Hitomi isn’t good around people right? If we go with the others we will be around everyone the whole time. There are three classes, so that’s around a hundred people.” Just the thought of being around one hundred people in a small space caused Hitomi to shiver. Any idea to prevent that situation was ok in her book. “Why don’t we go in the opposite direction than everyone else?”
“Opposite way?”Natsu looked around to make sure no one was eavesdropping on them, then gave them the run down of the day.
“Here is the plan for today. When we get to the museum all of the groups will head in the same direction, rotating in the rooms to see everything then moving on.”
“So we will all be in the same place?! That’s not good.”
“I figured as much. I’ll talk it over with Mr. Yamata to see if we can go in reverse order.”
“You sure do know a lot as the class representative. It must be a lot of hard work.”
“It really is! What are they thinking giving me so much stuff?! I get that they are trying to make us ready for high school, but I don’t want to see all the things the teachers don’t want to do.” Natsu complained with a passion that had previously been absent. “Ah.” As soon as she realized she had lost control, she immediately tried to cover it up. After looking around to see if anyone heard her, she looked at the two of them seriously. “Don’t tell anyone that. It’s just been really stressful.”
“I get that. Sometimes you just want to scream into the night sky about all the things you deal with.” Rose nodded her head in understanding.
“Yeah, I guess so huh.” Natsu took a second to calm down, but the second turned to minutes and before she could say anything else the bus had reached its destination. The energy in the bus returned to maximum as the doors opened up. The teachers lead the students off the buses, placing them in the groups they had been assigned. Ken was standing away from the group with his hands crossed. “Are you going to join us?”
“Hmph! It’s dangerous to be that close to unknown beings.”
“What does he mean?” Rose looked towards Natsu and then towards Hitomi. HItomi was swaying back and forth as she tried to avoid losing her concentration, so Rose set her focus on Natsu.
“I don’t know. This is what I meant earlier.”
“Ha! Talking behind my back? I knew you weren’t to be trusted.”
“It’s because you- ah nevermind. I’m not dealing with you right now. Is Hitomi alright?”
“No.” Hitomi managed to get out. Her voice was meek. Rose closed the distance between them and patted her on the back.
“There there. Just a little longer. You are doing great.”
“Does this happen often?”
“Only around large crowds. Once we separate I’m sure she’ll be at full force.”
‘You think too highly of me. This is going to be rough.’ Rose have her a thumbs up, and a smile that could replace the sun itself. Even if such gestures did nothing to stop the noise, it lessened their effect just enough to be helpful. After making sure everyone was off the buses, Natsu kept to her plan and left the group to talk with their teacher. After a few minutes of talking, she came back and gave the group a thumbs up.
“Got the A-Okay. We just have make sure we meet them for lunch and at the end.”
“That more than enough. Thanks Natsu.” Rose and Hitomi both bowed. “Ahaha, it’s probably weird seeing me bow.”
“Just a bit. You certainly stick out. At least I won’t lose track of you.”
“A foreign agent-”
“Shut up Ken. Keep your delusions to yourself.”
“Yes ma’am.” Rose laughed at the small exchange. She wasn’t sure what Ken was saying, but the tonal shift reminded her of Hitomi and herself.
“Since we don't have to wait for them to get going let’s set out.”
“Aye Aye.” Rose gave her an exaggerated salute. Hitomi did something similar but for a totally different reason. The two of them looked over at Ken. The sudden pressure from the girls forced his hand and he gave Natsu a salute as well.
“Oh this is going to be a fun time.” Natsu lead the four of them past the other groups and into the building. Already inside were two other groups being lead by the B class teacher. “Alright, they are heading that way. Ken, go get a map.”
“Why do I-” Natsu shot him a death glare. He immediately ran over to the where the maps were located and handed one over to her. Natsu followed the path they were suppose to take with her hand. She then traced in backwards so she knew which way she needed to go now.
“This way. Hopefully there won’t be a lot of people. First up is techniques in observing nature.” Almost immediately after leaving the lobby the number of people around them dropped significantly. As soon as she no long had to concentrate on keeping sane Hitomi talked.
“Thank you Natsu. It is very kind of you to do so much for me.”
“Don’t mention it. I’m suppose to look out for the other students right?”
“No, but I’m glad that you did. You’ll be a fine leader someday.” Hitomi walked over to Rose, who had already started to look at the instruments that were encased. Unsure what to do, Natsu followed her. “Thanks for the support Rose.”
“Look at that! It’s like a bunch of clocks! Wadokei?”
“I was ignored. Those are indeed clocks. Looking at them now I can’t believe how they managed to read these. They look so weird.”
“I can’t even tell what time it’s suppose to tell.” Natsu did her best to figure them out, but to no avail. Behind the three girls, Ken laughed ominously.
“Of course you can’t read these. The people of the past were well beyond the capacity of-”
“Can you tell what these say Ken?” Rose asked in the middle of his monologue.
“Only a child couldn’t read these clocks.” Ken walked forward with complete confidence. After thirty seconds of silence he raised his head, and walked away.
“Ummm.” Rose was stunned. “Hitomi.”
“He has no idea.”
“How would you know?!” Ken immediately defended himself. “Oh I see, you are an agent sent to spy on me. Ha it’s no use, no form of torture works on me.”
“Shut up Ken.” Natsu shot him down and looked back towards Rose and Hitomi. “He’s a bit delusional. Just tell him to shut up when he goes on like that.”
“It’s no problem to us. I’m sure Rose would love to play along.”
“It could be fun. Oh look at that over there! Those are microscopes right?”
“Yeah. Want to go see them?”
“You already know the answer to that.” Rose ran over to the exhibit followed by Hitomi and Natsu.
“I wish I could be this excited.”
“I don’t think anyone can match her. It’s best to just let the energy engulf you.” Hitomi offered her best advice, and Natsu took it to heart. Before long, the three of them were moving over to each display with some enthusiasm. Even despite his unwillingness before, Ken followed them around and gave his opinion on things every so often. They almost forgot to fill in their worksheets. Instead of being mad about it, they laughed it off and went through the entire first floor again. Time seemed to fly as they went through three floors of exhibits after that. Before they knew it, they were at the meet up point in the middle of the third floor.
“I have to apologize. I really thought this would be more trouble than it was worth, but I’ve been having a great time. Even Ken seemed to be getting into it.”
“That’s not true!”
“Ken, it’s not good to lie.” Rose scolded him with a warm tone that caused a complete one eighty.
“It was more fun than I thought as well. I never thought a museum would be fun.”
“It’s weird, but hasn’t most of the question for the exhibits been from the ones we’ve been to?” Hitomi was flipping through the packet as the three talked, making sure they didn’t miss anything. Since the others would arrive soon she only had a few moments to be stable. “It’s like the first half has nothing.”
“I think it’s because they thought we’d forget about it at the beginning. Which we did.”
“But it means we hardly have any work to do on the back half. We could just get the question out of the way and do something a little more… interesting.”
“I don’t like that way you said that.”
“I see what you are getting at. I thought we weren’t delinquents?” Rose tapped Hitomi on the head jokingly.
“We aren’t. But maybe my mom was right. We’ve already had the experience of a museum. Spicing thing up might be necessary.”
“Give me some time. Natsu, can I borrow the map?”
“I have a feeling this is bad, but I can’t say I’m not curious.” Natsu handed her the map, and Hitomi withdrew behind Rose, preparing for the influx of people to return. The four of them took seats at a couple of tables set out for their field trip. Within minutes the tables filled up with their classmates. Lunch was loud, and it only got louder as their energy returned to them as they ate. Natsu met with their teacher one more time before the main group left to explore the rest of the museum. Once everyone left, Hitomi let out a large sigh and held out the map over the table.
“I figured out where the answers to the question will be and mapped out an optimal route to get them as quickly as possible. From there, we will head back up to the second floor. That’s where the guard room is located. Our objective is to get a uniform to bring back as a souvenir.”
“That’s crazy.” Natsu tried to voice her discontent but was drowned out by Rose.
“Let’s do it! Sounds like quite the challenge. How do you plan to get in?”
“We’ll have to either steal a key, pick a lock, or sneak our way in. Which one we’ll figure out as we head down that floor. From there, we’ll need a distraction to keep any guards off our track, and move in a way that isn’t caught on camera. As a last resort, Rose could always just ask for one. Once we are in the clear, we head to the meeting point with the rest of our class.” Hitomi looked towards her group. Rose and Ken were on board, but Natsu was clearly not on board. “Natsu, I won’t have you partake directly. I don’t want you to be seen as a delinquent. I’d rather not have that title myself but it seems I already do.” Natsu sighed. She was unable to understand why they even wanted to do something this stupid.
“The longer we take the less time we have to prepare! Come on, let’s get these questions done!” Rose stood up and ran towards the western side of the museum. Before the others could even get up Rose ran back to them. “I don’t know where to go.”
“It’s good to be enthusiastic but we can take our time.” Hitomi tapped the top of Rose’s head. “Natsu, please take the lead. Once we get out there I don’t know if we’ll run into a crowd.”
“I guess I will. We are going to get in so much trouble.”
“Then why aren’t you stopping them?” Ken regretted those words as soon as Natsu looked at them. “Nevermind. What can I do to help?”
“You’ll be part of the distraction team.” Hitomi answered him without giving too much detail.
“Trust Hitomi. She’s really smart. Natsu! Lead the way!” And she did reluctantly. Hitomi’s adjustments to the plan were almost perfect. The number of exhibits that they had to visit could be counted on one hand. Even her passing the leadership over to Natsu came into play as another group of schoolkids happened to be in their way. With half an hour left to spare, they headed back up to the second floor to begin the operation. The four of them moved away from the other people to discuss the specifics.
“Allow me to produce what I gained from the first time around.” Hitomi did her best to look mature as she started. “There is no guards at the location but the door has a lock on it. The guards seem to be incredibly lazy, so every so often one or two go in there. We should make use of this.”
“How did you figure out all of this while still doing the questions?”
“It’s not important. Here’s the plan. Ken and Rose will pull the attention away from the room itself, allowing me to go in and take one. I’m the shortest and most nimble so I’m the best candidate.”
“I mean, I’m pretty nimble and strong too-” Before he could properly finish his sentence, Hitomi walked over to him and held out her hand. He was confused by the gesture, but as soon as he tried to reach out Hitomi chopped down on his head hard, almost enough to lose his balance. “What was that for?!”
“You are slow and weak. I’ll handle the manpower in this mission. Just do what you do best and be annoying.”
“At least explain what that means!”
“Rose, you seem oddly quiet.”
“I’m taking this seriously. Bravery takes all of your soul. Tell me what to do and I’ll make sure it gets done.” Even with how carefully Hitomi had planned what they’d do Rose was the most calm of them.
“Very well. You and Ken will act out one of his delusions loudly. As loudly as you can. Enough to break through the door.”
“Easy, you’ll go in while they are distracted with us?”
“Yeah. I won’t need a ton of time, so as long as you keep it up it show go by without a hitch. Natsu, if things go south, go to the bathroom. I don’t want you to be dragged down with us.”
“I mean, if you think that’s ok. I didn’t hear any of this.” Natsu walked away but she was worried about the group. Even if she didn’t want to be involved she couldn’t just let them do this without supervision.
“I’ll leave this to you two.” Hitomi could trust Rose to perform perfectly. Ken on the other hand would get washed into the energy Rose would bring. It was a matter on how long Rose could keep it up and how quickly Hitomi could move. Hitomi walked away from the two to let them position themselves. She could see what the others could see and what they focused on. With this, she could stay out of sight. Soon, the two of them started their performance.
“Ah, look, the agent of the Organization of Light! How did you find me here?!” Her voice boomed, but nothing she said sounded like a lie. Ken immediately realized what he had to do and responded.
“Your lack of disguise lead to your downfall agent of the Organization of Darkness! How dare you try to hide within innocent people. Such a crime is unforgivable!”
“Ahahahaha! And what are you going to do? You can’t take care of me here!” They were loud. Far too loud to ignore. Since they were close to the guard station they were the ones called to get them to stop. Hitomi moved towards the door and used them coming out to avoid detection from the cameras. There was one other guard keeping watch on the monitors, but he was so out of it that her presence wouldn’t be a problem. She looked around, but no lockers or uniforms were in sight. The commotion outside was clearing up faster than expected. She cursed herself for her lack of foresight. Even if they felt confident, they were still young and weak compared to the adults. Since her time was cut Hitomi took the closest thing that could act as a prize. It was a hat that wouldn’t fit any of them, but was good enough. She stuffed the hat into her backpack. As she went to hide, the person coming in looked right at her. Hitomi panicked, and left the room at full speed. He didn’t give chase. Hitomi fell to the floor after that. Rose ran over to her as soon as she saw her fall.
“Hitomi! Are you ok?!”
“I had to use my power…” Her voice was as quiet as she could make it. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s ok. It’s my fault for not being able to hold them off longer. Don’t blame yourself. How much did you shave off?”
“I don’t know, but it couldn’t have been much. A few minutes at most.” Her voice was shaken, and by this point Natsu and Ken were standing over her. “Sorry, they almost saw me and I’m a little scared.” She did her best to hide the guilt she was feeling. She held her hand over her chest just in case her third eye was glowing.
“This is why this was a bad idea. I told you this was a bad idea. Well? Did you get anything?”
“Please give me a moment to collect myself.” Hitomi stood up and took a few deep breaths. “I got one of their hats. There didn’t seem to be any places to store clothes and it was the first thing that seemed worth getting. Sorry it’s not something more.”
“That’s plenty good! Let’s get to the entrance. We’ve done plenty here.” Rose directed the conversation to move them along. Hitomi thanked her silently. The four of them headed back to the entrance, but even with their little stunt they were a little early.
“So who gets to keep the hat?” Ken asked. “I mean not to brag but the only reason it worked at all was because I was there.”
“You are only saying that to brag. Hitomi should be the one to keep it. She did the work and suggested it.”
“No buts.” After denying Ken a chance to argue for himself, Natsu turned to Hitomi. “Are you ok now?”
“Yeah. Sorry, I’m not very courageous. I’m better now.”
“I still don’t know why you did this, but it was interesting to watch. Ken kept the act up even after Rose gave up.”
“Acting isn’t my strong suit, so after they yell at me to stop I immediately apologized.” Rose was a little embarrassed by this fact, but didn’t get hung up on it for long. “Make sure you take good care of that. Oh, and we might want to leave that part out of our journals.”
“What do you mean? The Social Studies project?”
“Yeah! We are writing about all the places we go to. Their history and stuff. It’s been really fun so far.” Rose’s excitement of it was strange to both Ken and Natsu, but they couldn’t bring themselves to say so.
“Cool? Well, I’m just glad we didn’t get in any trouble. I had a lot of fun.”
“Same. What about you Ken?”
“Sure. I mean, it wasn’t that fun, it was still a museum.”
“Ignore him, he said it was fun before so now he’s just embarrassed.”
“Yeah I figured that all out by now. Thanks for dealing with us.”
“Don’t worry about it. Ah, there comes the other students. Seems like our trip is over.” Hitomi withdrew again as the amount of people around her rose above her tolerance level. The drive back was much quieter thanks to the lack of energy every had after a day of moving around and dealing with other people. After handing in their worksheets as they got off the bus, Rose and Hitomi left to fetch her scooter.
“Have you calmed down?”
“Yes. Hopefully everything is ok. My mark is calm at least.”
“Don’t worry about it. We made a mistake and you had to pay for it. I’ll make it up.”
“I want a plate of cookies and one talisman to call Gratia.”
“Ehhh!? That’ll take me like four days to make! How about I pay you instead?”
“Fine, lunch tomorrow and the cookies.”
“Deal! What are you going to do with the hat?”
“Probably keep it in my room as a trophy. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a collection by the end of this year.”
“Maybe. Let’s see… are you free this weekend?”
“Cool. Maybe we’ll do something then!”
“You already know I don’t have an answer. It’s mean to ask.” Hitomi laughed, and turned away from Rose.
“I still have practice today, so I can’t join you home. Have a safe trip.”
“Do you best! See you tomorrow!”
“See ya.” Hitomi waved and made way back to the school against the crowd.