Anywho, boy, when you got it, you keep a close watch on the ones that's befriendin' you (Friendin' you)

In the previous chapter, Robbie and Mullet has founded some information from their friend, and knowing the whole atmosphere begins to more and more silent with some oddities goes on. Not to mention Robbie found his childhood friend, Chiyo, was killed in two different places. Apart from that. What does the dagger that Robbie saw, and what will happen on this chapter?

This chapter is still focused on Robbie.


Chapter 37

Something has Changed (Part Two)

Robbie

Day 39 – 22 days left

The school bell rang audibly - telling the whole students to do their club work and having fun with their lives for hours. The sun from the sky creates beautiful blue colors and decorates the world. Nevertheless, this is merely a mask to cover the dark side – thus what Robbie and Mullet feel.

With six club members present in the room, the photography club is more colorful. As usual, all of them are doing the club work to keep the photography club running.

"All done!" Mullet clapped his hands and rubbed his palms as a sign of satisfaction.

"Yes," Robbie nodded.

A lot of pictures are pinned on a large whiteboard that is used as a bulletin board with "Ready to drop" written on the middle top. The portraits are ready to be sent anywhere in the school, such as the lobby, given to the class, yearbook, documentary, and many more.

"Beautiful," one word came out of Robbie's mouth, "Anyway… I wanna talk something about yesterday. So… shall we?"

"How about later? It's still club time, tho," Mullet refused while his hands were typing on the keyboard.

"Okay,"

Robbie continues to slack off since his job was done, and nothing to do except laying on the couch with Shouko's perfume is still sticking on it. He periodically sniffs her scent like a pervert to please himself. Mmhm… smell of a beautiful 170cm girl.

"Sure thing. I will do it later, senpai,"

Shouko moved out of the camera studio room with her left hand holding the metal doorknob – ready to pull it close. Her beautiful eyes are in contact with Mullet's eyes with a charm that has not gone yet – trying to open a conversation.

"How's it going?" she spoke in a happy tone.

"All done. Now it's our time to slack off," Mullet flexed his arms upward.

"Haha. Well, good for you. But be ready when we need you both, okay?"

Both Robbie and Mullet nodded.

Shouko continues to go out of the clubroom, pinning all the pictures on bulletin boards all over the school. However, there is one thing that caught Robbie and Mullet's attention. Her expression went 180 – from a shiny smile into a gloomy worried face, a sign of something wrong happened.

"Yo, Rob," Mullet pat Robbie's shoulder.

"Hmm?"

"You see her face, right?"

"Yeah. She looks happy when looking at us. But then all gone just in a moment. Something's matter?" Robbie replied.

"I dunno. Should we ask her?" Mullet tapped his index finger on the up directional button on the keyboard.

Suddenly, Piko-senpai walked out of the camera room with his left hand holding a bunch of pictures. He looked around for someone he wanted to see, but too late for him.

"Shouko just left?" he asked.

"Yeah," Robbie and Mullet answered simultaneously.

"Man…" Piko-senpai sighed, "can you guys send these pics to her? I forgot to hand them. But if you can't find him, just put these all on the remaining spaces on bulletin boards,"

"Alright. But why you asked us? Why don't I just send it myself?" Robbie received the pictures.

"Well, you guys are always walking together. I guess both of you are brothers…"

Robbie replied with a facepalm, "Let's go,"

Before Piko-senpai walks back into the camera studio room, Robbie halts him like pressing a pause button.

"One more thing, senpai. We're going out for a while after these photos, okay?"

"Take your time. Well, gotta do something I had to right now,"

"You wanna follow me, or not?" Robbie asked Mullet after only they were left inside.


After they pinned all the pictures on every single bulletin board on the school, Robbie and Mullet stopped at the lobby for a drink – replenishing their energy since they didn't find Shouko on their way. The atmosphere inside is tranquil and happy due to the sun brightens the world.

"She's so fast… just gone in seconds after we left her alone pinning these pics," Mullet sighed after taking two sips of his drink.

"I know, right,"

Robbie's eyes are looking around the lobby to make sure no one is there, including the security that always sits in the same position every schooldays.

"What are you looking at?" Mullet asked.

"Nothing," Robbie lied, "Just looking for a visible air,"

"Dude. Air is invisible unless your eyes can see it. And that would end up for your nightmare," Mullet replied satirically.

"Whaaaaa? Bite me. What do you mean?"

"You know that the air is polluted and mixed with poisonous and radioactive gases in this world nowadays. It would be rare for you to see the fresh ones. When you use your eyes to see the real air right here, you will wish that you are blind, haha," Mullet explained.

"What the?! Shut up!"

"Yeah yeah," Mullet drank his cola for the last time, "Anyway, what you wanna talk about?"

"Well," Robbie looked around the lobby to ensure they were the only ones there.

"This all about things that I saw last night. About my friend and about that mysterious dude in a black overall. Which one should I tell you first?"

"You wanna tell me. Then you choose one, duh," Mullet lifted his eyebrows.

"Then I tell you about my friend first. This might be out of topic, but let's try,"

Robbie starts explaining about his childhood friend, Chiyo, who works at three different places every day. Not to forget about her explanations about the city is less crowded as time pass. The story continues where Chiyo weirdly behaves before she was killed twice in her two workplaces. The way Robbie tells the chronology is short, dense, and clear for Mullet to digest.

"That's for her story. And about the mysterious person… I saw him last night after I left. He met another guy that is kinda shorter than us and gave him a dagger. I dunno what it will be used for… is he going after us?"

"Who was that dude?" Mullet referred to the second person.

"I don't know. I cannot see his face. But I remember he wore a black hoodie and pants,"

"Do you stalk him?"

"Are you crazy?! I can't. I got spotted anyway," Robbie put his drink on the table.

"Darn…" Mullet sighed, "But speaking about your childhood friend, how can you sure that she got murdered twice as you said? Like… it's not even logic and are you sure that was her – the person that you always met so far?"

"Why you said that?" Robbie felt a bit offended.

"I am not trying to offend you. But I don't think that she is Chiyo, your friend you have been met all the time. Why? First, she works at three different places every day. Second, you have not seen her or even been in touch with her for six years. Third, she does not have a twin sister. And last but not least, you saw her got killed twice! If that happened, how did she resurrected and dead again?"

"Look! I...I…" Robbie ran out of words as Mullet bit him with a reality that swept his delusion away.

"Let me get this done for you. I want you to meet Chiyo and explain what you had to say. But this time, real her. So, all of your question marks about her are erased," Mullet gave Robbie a simple yet almost impossible task.

"Well… thanks for telling me about that. But, can you help me with this one?"

"I am afraid I can't. Since this is your problem and I think it is better for you to solve it yourself because I cannot help you with that,"

The two were awkwardly silent afterward, having no method to kill the boredom and awkwardness in the school lobby except the chirping birds and students crowd heard from outside and the hallway.

"Man… shall we get back to the clubroom? It's getting boring here," Robbie cracked his fingers.

"You go ahead. I wanna get back to class. There is something I forgot to do," Mullet shook his head slowly.

"What is it?"

"Something personal. You don't have to know it," Mullet stood up from the couch.

"Well, okay. Let's get outta here,"

Upon reaching the third floor, Robbie halted on the stairway waiting for Mullet to finish his needs in his class 2-2. However, when Mullet is about to walk through the doorway, he glares at Robbie, who stands like a yellow thumbtack pinned on a floor.

"What?" Mullet asked.

"Just waiting for you to finish your stuff,"

"It is gonna take a while. Just don't wait for me. Go," Mullet moved his sight into the class, where Shouko is inside, "Oh hey, Shouko. We have been looking for you,"

"Oh. I actually get back here to grab my bag. Sorry,"

Shouko walked out of the class, where her eyes caught with Robbie's appearance.

"Oh. Hey, Robbie. Are you waiting for me too?"

"Mmhm," Robbie replied.

"Sorry that I made you guys wait,"

"Don't worry," Robbie let out a breath, "Let's get back to the clubroom. See you back in there, Mullet,"


The clubroom Robbie and Shouko stepped in are warm and comfortable - putting it in the safest room of the entire school. However, Robbie saw a note that says:

We are going to the park for a while!

- Club Pres

"Well. I guess we had to wait until everyone's back here, then,"

"Yes,"

Shouko took off her school vest and hanged it inside the green locker next to her blazer. The sweat that ran down to her back made her white shirt becomes transparent. Realizing it, she turned around quick enough to not let Robbie sees it.

"Why do you take off your blazer?" Robbie asked her a simple question.

"I don't want it wet by my sweat,"

"Okay," Robbie lifted his eyebrows.

Without any commands or something seducing, Shouko gets closer to Robbie and sits on the couch - made Robbie lifted his legs to give her space. Shouko sits still and pulls her shoulders a bit backward, unintentionally exposing her button gap and her large cleavage behind.

"Robbie. I wanna talk something to you," said Shouko after she stretched.

"Yes?"

Is she trying to seduce me or something?

"There is something that I'm afraid to tell anyone. But I think you are the perfect one," Shouko averted her gaze.

"Are you trying to confess your love to me?" Robbie made a frontal question yet was brave enough to stop the whole conversation.

Meh, I don't mind. I already have a girlfriend anyway…

"Wha?! No!"

An awkwardness silenced the whole room as Robbie questioned her a something that was not expected - broke and stirred Shouko's mind for about 20 seconds while she was surprised and petrified like a statue. Her delicate lips were bit by her own teeth, representing a shyness that flooded her mind.

"Alright. My bad. Tell me what you want to say," Robbie continues the conversation before someone sees them.

"Well, uh…" Shouko tried to spit her words despite still feeling nervous, "This… this is about Yuu. He has been weird recently. I dunno how to tell this, but… he's been psychotic,"

"Huh? What do you mean psychotic? Did he do something or at least saw him? Because I always see him fine," Robbie recalled his mind. He always looks after Yuu, the one that he saved from attempted suicide.

"You don't get it. You may see him always being happy and behave like a sunflower as usual. But he is not what you expected recently. He threatened me to do something that he wants and gives repercussions if I refuse," Shouko replied softly, not to being heard by anyone.

"Threatened? What did he do to you?" Robbie scrunched his eyebrows.

"He told me to do random things that I don't even know. But he once told me to stalk you every single day. When I asked him, he just snapped at me. So, I had to lie to him about you and your friend to keep ourselves safe,"

"Alright, but do you have any proof?"

"Uhh…" Shouko's mind went blank for a minute.

"It doesn't have to be in your hands now,"

"I… I don't have one," Shouko lied.

"I know you're lying. Just tell me. No need to hide it if that involved me," Robbie lowered his tone to make it less threatening.

"I-I have one. But I will show you later…,"

"Alrig-"

"But please. I need your help," Shouko gets on Robbie's top with her arms supporting her – only make the situation more absurd for him.

"Uhh, Shouko…" Robbie warned her to off the couch.

"This is not only about Yuu, but Kano is getting weird to me as well. He wants me to stop seeing both of you," Shouko continued.

"Huh?"

"He wants me to stop being friends with you two," Shouko repeated her word.

"That's obviously stupid. We always meet each other almost every day. And now he wants to cut our ties?" Robbie tried to reply since Shouko lowered her body – making them closer.

"I know. But I was too afraid to stop them. You know that I am not the kind who loves arguing or even fighting," Shouko lowered her body more, which now her legs and stomach touched with Robbie's lower body.

"Yeah… if he still wants to do so, try to talk about it to us. Or maybe… try to talk to Piko-senpai to kick you out of the club," Robbie still managed to speak despite most of his body now contact with Shouko.

"Mmhm… but please. You two can help me, right?"

"Of course," Robbie nodded.

"I don't wanna die,"

Huh?

Shouko's word took the room's ambient away from Robbie – making it morbidly silent as he was also petrified like he was being cursed into a stone. Robbie not only realized that she is might the one who would die later, but also, she probably spoiled about what will happen to her.

Is she know about this? Should I just ask?

Robbie slowly raises his right hand and strokes Shouko's hair – calming her down to her normal state.

"No. you will not die. Just don't think like that," Robbie put his right hand down.

"Uhh… Sorry,"

"But I still want both of you to get out of this school while you can," Shouko replied in a whisper that was barely heard by Robbie.

"Huh?"

*Pwf*

Three buttons popped off from Shouko's uniform, exposing her breasts that jiggled from the effect. Robbie reflexively moved his eyes to her assets with her red bra visible. For a moment, the two paused without moving any muscles – realizing what happened now that broke their focus.

"Y-your shirt!"

Without knowing it from Robbie, Shouko moves away from him and off the couch. She covers her chest by crossing her arms in front of it, "S-Sorry!"

She quickly opens the locker to take her sweater vest inside, the creaking sound produced from the metal door deafening their ears for a moment as it opened roughly, the lights from the sun bathes Shouko's uniform partially until she takes what she needs to wear.

"Hey, be careful. You gonna break the hinges,"

Not listening to Robbie, Shouko hastily wears her sweater vest like a fireman who is suiting up. Not to forget, she had to put on her blazer as well – fully dressed.

"Forget what you see now!" Shouko spoke while still facing the locker, ready to close it.

"Okay,"

Robbie took the three buttons that came off Shouko's shirt. Two of them are on the couch, and one is on the floor not far from him. All the buttons still have threads that came off as well, white and clean as new.

He puts it on his right hand, ready to hand it to that 17-year-old girl, "Here,"

"Thanks,"

Due to the shame that overcomes her, Shouko didn't speak any single word through her mouth. She just rushed out of the clubroom without closing the locker that she opened.

"Wow…" Robbie still cannot forget the moment where he just saw Shouko's breasts that pressed against his chest, and they were gazing at each other seconds before the death of her buttons.

"Well… why they involved her instead of killing her right away? And is she actually know this? And…"

For a second, Robbie forgot that he had to go with Shouko to see her proof that she talked before. Reflexively, he runs out of the clubroom and pursues her like a cop.

Where is she…

Upon reaching the third-floor hallway, he rushed to class 2-3 while calling Shouko. However, when he arrived at the doorway, Robbie crashed himself into Mullet, making them fall from the impact. Some papers that Mullet bought were flying down like white leaves.

"Hey, slow down. I had to rearrange these papers again!" Mullet grinch.

"Sorry," Robbie replied while taking the papers back.

"Thanks," Mullet received the papers, "You guys finished yet?"

"No. Is Shouko went here?"

Mullet shook his head.

"I need to after her. She wants to show me something," Robbie closed the class door.

"Why?"

"A proof of a woman's abuse…," Robbie replied indirectly.

"Say what?" Mullet scrunched his eyebrows, stunned.

Robbie did not reply. He just tapped his footsteps to where Shouko paused. The curiosity that formerly pursues Robbie is now infected with Mullet. He tailed his friend like a duckling, wondering where the father took him to. After putting the papers to where they belong, Robbie explained about what happened back in the clubroom (except the button accident due to it was not unimportant, and he better keep that for himself)

"Just behave normally with those boys. Don't let the anger stepped ahead of you," Mullet closed his explanation after they passed through the lobby, telling Robbie not to directly accuse Yuu and Kano.

"Okay- Hey! What do you mean?"

"Well, I see you being a hothead… kinda…,"

"Prove it!" Robbie furrowed his eyebrows.

Mullet gave Robbie a smug, which he already got the proof if his friend is a 17-year-old grumpy boy and left Robbie question-marked.

"What? No proof, right?" Robbie asked.

"Whether that you pretend or you really dense, you just proved yourself before," Mullet smug again.

"What is it? I dunno,"

"You just said Prove it like you're on your period right now. Hehehe," Mullet laughed by his own satire, "I win!"

"Yeah, whatever," Robbie pouted.

"Oh! There you are, Robbie,"

Shouko's voice from behind pulled their shoulders back, making them turned around to see her spawned suddenly from the school lobby. The sun enhances her aura – the aura of prettiness and heart-warming. She took seven steps ahead from the glass door to reach into their range.

"Why did you just walk away back then? You said you want to show me," Robbie swept away his annoyance in a blink of an eye.

"Sorry, I forgot about it," Shouko grabbed Robbie's left hand, ready to drag him outside, "Follow me,"

Robbie replied to her with a nod and released his hand from Shouko's grip - feeling a bit annoyed.

"It's still there,"

The trio moved out of the school via the lobby. The sun still shines with white clouds decorating the brick-red pathway and casting shadows on the ground, hinting at something that Robbie and Mullet don't know yet.

Upon reaching the pond in the school park, Shouko missiles to dirt in front of a tree. She rummaged something there and for a few times until she circled the tree. Shouko repeated it two times, but nothing can she found as she searched more and more carefully.

"Oh no. I hide it around here," Shouko kept sweeping the dirt with her hands that were already dirty by it.

"Maybe you dug the wrong spot?" Robbie replied.

"No! I exactly hid it here before. And it was still here when I checked one hour ago," Shouko stopped digging.

"Maybe you should relax for a bit, maybe-"

"What are you guys doing?"

Kano and Yuu, who appeared out of nowhere, made the trio startled. They recoiled and turned around in unison with the same speed, creating a dance move. Meanwhile, Kano and Yuu greet him with a smile – a smile of an innocent who is ready to lend their hands.

"Uhh…" Shouko stammered to answer due to she was (almost) busted.

"We are looking for treasure around here," Mullet replied with a lie.

"Treasure?" Yuu scrunched his eyebrows.

"Yeah," Mullet shown a letter which is an unknown riddle with some steps, "I just found it from a trash can. So, it might be interesting,"

"Let me see," Kano snatched the riddle from Mullet, reading it until he stopped at step four, "Go to the of green hair with dark skin. They are usually staying next to a wooden place which can shelter some people,"

Robbie can't do anything except just standing there - hoping that their secret is not blown. He gulped for a moment, and he blinked less, not to mention his heart beating faster. On the other hand, he and Shouko thanked Mullet for the letter used as a decoy.

"Dude, you searched the wrong spot. First, they said next to a wooden place which can shelter some people. That means the tree at the gazebo, not here. Second, why did you let Shouko did the work?"

"Oh really, thanks. And uhh… she wants to do it. So, we can't refuse," Robbie received the letter, "Come on, guys,"

"Actually, we need Shouko now," Kano stopped the trio before moving away, "I guess you had to go there without her,"

Can't refuse their need, Robbie and Mullet had to hand over Shouko to them with a sigh of heavy-hearted. With only two of them proceeding the clue, they tapped the red brick pathway throughout the school park until they left its atmosphere to the gazebo, where the supposed thing buries there.

"Oh yeah, Robbie. Did you locked the clubroom?" Mullet asked the question out of nowhere.

"Oh! I forgot. Maybe imma get there after this," Robbie recoiled his head upward.

"Guys," Taro-senpai, who is standing next to a gazebo, waved at him.

The duo paused their mission and approached that third-year student.

"You guys have an update?" Taro-senpai asked.

"Not too much this far," Robbie answered, "But what I heard was about Yuu. Shouko knew he's been act psychotic recently. He forced her to do something, and consequences await if she refuses,"

"What Yuu asked for?"

"She doesn't know. She said Yuu asked her to do some random things," Robbie paused for a moment to recall, "Oh. And she said Yuu asked her to stalk us every single day,"

"Every single day? That outrageous," Taro-senpai raised his eyebrows.

"I know, right,"

"Did she do it?"

"Apparently no, since I didn't see her tailing us,"

"She probably lied to Yuu," Taro-senpai made his conjecture, "Well. I saw him and Kano walk together recently. But I have no idea about where they go,"

"Wait. You see them too?" Mullet asked.

"I have scoped them for a week. That's why I told you about Yuu have been weird lately – asking you to see them,"

"Well…" Mullet spoke in ad-lib.

"Anyway, I want you to see him and look after Shouko. I want her to meet us tomorrow after school. I will follow your bus," Taro-senpai told them a plan for tomorrow, "I will see you guys later,"

"Alright. I will take your stuff and close the clubroom. Just wait for me on the front," said Robbie.


Mullet (short scene only)

Robbie and Taro-senpai disappeared from Mullet's sight, leaving him alone amid the emptiness accompanying him in the afternoon. Following what Robbie told him to, he makes his way to the front yard by reentering the park once more. The beautiful nature inside creates a small forest or an ecosystem that isolates the whole world like in the basement.

At least there's something that relieves my mind here.

After exiting the school park, Mullet's instinct caught something odd on his ears.

"Please… don't do anything to them,"

The voice came out from behind of the indoor pool, which lures Mullet to come closer. He carefully makes his way there like a chameleon – camouflage his way through.

"Just let him go,"

Mullet finally got his hiding point to eavesdropping on the conversation. He peeks briefly to see who is involved, where Shouko was threatened by Yuu and Kano. Her blazer was taken off, and she was doused by a water bucket.

Knowing the situation was down bad, Mullet pulled out his smartphone and recorded the conversation. Strange still, his mind refused to confront the duo and stop them.

"Just tell me, what do you want from them? Why you forced me to do this?!" Shouko cried.

"That is what you get when you snitch! Can't you listen to us once?!" Yuu snapped after slapping her with a notebook.

"Because I don't even want to do this in the first place! Just ask someone else!"

"Shut up!" Kano slapped her.

"I give you one last chance, Shouko. I will do my job tomorrow, and you better put them away from me. Just don't let them know what I am doing until I say done! Again, this is your last chance!" Yuu closed the intimidation by giving her an energy drink, "and about what you asked before. The less you know, the better,"

Yuu and Kano leave Shouko alone with her soaking wet appearance. She kneeled down and cried with her hands covering her face.

"I wanna die…"

Mullet stopped recording afterward. He decided to leave the scene since helping that lady probably will get things worse. Nevertheless, he got proof that he can show it to Robbie soon.

"Now it's time for the video-" His phone suddenly died with the battery went to zero, blocking his way to share the recording.

"Darn it,"

Mullet glimpsed back his eyes to his hiding spot, recalling the tragedy that is now memorized in his brain.

"At least I remember that,"

To be continued…


And that's all for chapter 37.

The less you know for the chapter 38, the better.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you guys are having a good day!