Between two of his morning classes Kuroumaru decided to take a detour into the classroom that was identified as the location one of the missing students was seen. According to the police reports the student in question was working on posters for an upcoming school production. Her group of friends were with her initially but an argument erupted and she was left alone to finish the posters by herself. There were plenty of students outside the classroom and no one had seen her or anyone else come in or out and when someone went in to check on her at a later time she couldn't be found. School security feeds were checked at all exits and the student was not seen leaving.
"So then what happened to you," Kuroumaru silently asked as he scanned the room.
Thinking it was as good idea as any he went straight to the windows on the far side and opened one up. Peering down he saw that it was a good four stories down straight onto cement. He had to reason to believe that she was extraordinarily fit and although she could technically survive a fall from this height she definitely not be able to unscathed from it... Unless someone or something that could handle that jump was involved... but there's no proof of an outside party. The lack of any leads was what was truly bizarre .
Kuroumaru sighed and pressed down on the concrete ledge that lined the building. Maybe she crossed this way? It was wide enough for most people to cross in relative safety. Though she disappeared in broad daylight with a campus full of students and teachers. How would anyone not notice that?
Kuroumaru closed the window and tapped on his chin in deep thought. Was there any other way than the window? A quick scan of the ordinary classroom showed no promises. The air vent was far too small for anyone to get through and past that there was only the classroom door. Supernaturally thinking there were a number of creatures that could easily kill their prey and either absorb or eat a person without leaving a trace of evidence but just one person between so many years didn't fit any creatures that he knew of...
The sound of the door opening caught Kuroumaru's attention and he turned to see Doki poke her head in.
"Kuroumaru-kun?" She walked a few steps in the room and eyed him curiously.
"Ah, Doki-chan. What are you doing here?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing. I saw you through the door's window and our next class was starting soon so I wanted to make sure everything was okay."
"Everything's fine. I was just looking into a few things, "Kuroumaru replied vaguely.
Doki stepped to him and eyed the room.
"Things? What kind of things?"
"It doesn't matter. As you said class is about to start so we better get going."
Whatever the mean her disappearance was the situation wouldn't change and he could easily pick us his investigation after class.
"Oh... okay," Doki said as she started to turn back toward the door and at that moment a bell began to sound through the monitors. "Ah! It's the warning bell. We have to hurry," she exclaimed as she went to start dashing to the door, only to miss a step while mid turn and went head first into the bookshelf lining the wall causing books to fall scattered around her.
"Doki-chan," Kuroumaru shouted in shock as he rushed to her side. "Are you okay," he asked as he helped her roll over to her backside.
"Ow... ow," Doki whined as she pressed a hand to her banged forehead.
"Should I get a school nurse for you," Kuroumaru asked with concern.
"No... I think I'm okay. Am I bleeding," she asked as she pulled her hand away for him to see.
Kuroumaru shook negatively to affirm that she wasn't. "No, but you're going to have one heck of a bump from the looks of it."
"I'm so embarrassed," she said as threw her hands over her red face. "I can't believe you saw me fall like that! I feel like a toddler..."
"It happens," Kuroumaru said reassuringly as he eased down next to her. "Don't worry about it."
Doki sighed as she let herself recover from the sudden blow to the head and stared up towards the ceiling. Flicking her eyes to the accursed bookshelf she noticed a small nub that was hidden away along the underside of the bottom shelf. She tilted her head to the side curiously. It looked like a button or something.
"What's this," she asked curiously as she subconsciously pressed on the nub.
She wasn't expecting anything to happen and was surprised to hear a click from behind the bookcase and the bottom shelf's back paneling pushed back on hinges, revealing a dark entrance. Kuroumaru stared at the revealed opening with wide eyes and a slacked jaw. He didn't take secret passages into account. What luck that Doki happened to stumble upon such a great lead.
"Doki-chan, you're a genius," he exclaimed with a smile and crawled to the entrance to look down. "I can't even see the bottom. How deep does this go?"
"Um... This isn't normal, is it? Should we go get a teacher?"
"No, it's fine. This school has all sorts of hidden passages and secret rooms. I don't know why we didn't think of something like this sooner."
"We who? Kuroumaru they way you're talking sounds like you were searching for something like this."
"No, that's silly... Why would I be doing something like that," Kuroumaru said unconvincingly.
"Yeah... You're a horrible liar Kuroumaru-kun," Doki deadpanned. "Listen, we're already late for class but if we leave now we can tell the teacher what happened and we'll most likely get away with just a warning..."
"You're right. You go on ahead and I'll be... right behind you."
Doki starred at him with a disbelieving look.
"You're going to go down there aren't you?"
"Kuroumaru! Do you have any idea how dangerous that could be," she questioned as she rose to a sitting position. "We know it's deep. You could fall and get seriously hurt! And who knows where it leads or what's down there. That thing is probably crawling with spiders too. Spiders Kuroumaru!"
"Listen, Doki-chan. "I can't tell you why but I need to see where that leads. Go on to class without me. Trust me, I'll be fine."
Doki sighed and placed a hand to her face.
"I'm not going to be able to talk you out of this, am I?"
"... Fine, but I'm not leaving you to die at the bottom of some mystery hole."
"If you're going down I'll just have to go down with you."
"You are most certainly not!"
"Like you said. It could be dangerous down there with spiders and stuff."
"I'm not leaving you so I guess I'll have to find a way to manage," Doki said defiantly as she placed her hands on her hips.
"Ugh, you are so stubborn."
"Only when it's important. So... How are we going down?"
"I was just going to toss a rope down," Kuroumaru said as he summoned a rope from his storage dimension.
"Oh! That's so cool!"
"Thanks," Kuroumaru said as he began securing the rope on their end and tossing the rest down the hole. "I'll go down first, just in case. Take it slow. If I start going too fast or if you need to stop just let me know."
"Here," Kuroumaru said as he handed her a flashlight clip and put it on her jacket.
"Thank you. This will make me feel a lot safer."
"You'll feel a lot safer if you just stay up here," he said suggestively.
"Hah, nice try mister."
"Fine, I'm heading down then," Kuroumaru said as he threw his legs down into the secret passage and started to descend with ease.
"Right... right," Doki said as she mentally began to prepare herself.
Never in her life has in her life has she ever been this daring before and she couldn't figure out if the rushing adrenaline was being caused by fear or excitement. Maybe both? Even though she has only known Kuroumaru for little over a day's time was surprised to realize that she already trusted him with her life and was actually about to literally follow him down what her imagination pictured as a hole into a Lovecraftian alternate dimension. She took one last breath as she grabbed hold of the rope and followed after Kuroumaru.
Thankfully the flashlight illuminated the way down well enough to where Doki could see Kuroumaru clearly as he carefully made his way down. The walls were lined with dark brick and she felt like she was climbing down a chimney chute.
"Hold up a sec," She heard Kuroumaru say.
"Hmm, what is it?"
"There's a small sliding door here and I want to see where it leads."
Looking down Doki watched as Kuroumaru slide open a metal door that was built into the wall and peer inside.
"What do you see?"
"It just leads to the ventilation system," Kuroumaru whispered up to her. "I can see a class though a vent too."
"Really? Let me see," she said as she lowered herself carefully next to him.
Looking through the opening she confirmed that they could see into a class that was currently in session. It was a good vantage point as they could easily see the entire class as the students listened to the teacher go on about a certain math equation.
"This is kind of creepy," Doki whispered.
"Why is this here? I don't like thinking that somebody could be watching me like this without me knowing."
"I agree, but who knows why this is here. It could be just a simple maintenance shaft..."
"Do you really believe that?"
"... No, but I'm just trying to look at this objectively. Let's just continue down. I'm more curious as to where this leads to."
They both continued downward for a bit, passing a couple more of those sliding doors along the way. According to Kuroumaru's sense of space they should be past the basement by now and yet there was more rope and a ways down.
"Wait... stop," Doki whined. "How much further can this possibly go!? It feels never ending. My hands are burning and my arms hurt..."
"Sorry, I honestly didn't think that it would be this deep."
"I don't know if I can go on..."
"It's okay. Just hold on a bit," he said as he climbed up to where Doki was. "Put your arms around my neck and I'll carry you the rest of the way."
"What? Kuroumaru-kun, there's no way that you can climb down while carrying me."
"I'll be fine. I may not look like it but I'm quite strong. I can do this all day."
"A-are you sure?"
"Oh... okay then," she said as she slid her legs around his waist followed by wrapping her arms around his neck. "Is this okay?"
"Yep, you're pretty light so this is no problem at all," Kuroumaru said as he started down again.
Doki blushed at the unintended compliment as she allowed him to carry her down the impossibly deep whole. She sighed realizing that their class was probably half over at this point. They were definitely looking at getting a detention. Her parents will not be happy when they get informed. What would she even say. 'Sorry, I skipped class to go repelling down a secret hole in the wall with a boy I met yesterday.' Somehow she didn't think that was going to fly. Yup, she also saw a grounding in her future. Though she didn't really mind in a weird way... Even though her body ached and she was a little scared she was having a good time.
She grew increasingly embarrassed as she noted her close proximity to Kuroumaru. The others would be so jealous if the saw them in their current state. She wondered what Kuroumaru was thinking about their current closeness. Looking at his face he showed no signs of exhaustion as he climbed down she noted that he also showed no hints of any kind of embarrassment like she was feeling. 'Really Kuroumaru-kun? I know I'm not Chloe level hotness but you have a decently cute girl pressed against your back and you're not even mildly embarrassed about it? Maybe he doesn't find me attractive at all?'
She couldn't help but wonder what kind of girls was Kuroumaru's type. Not once has she ever seen him flirt with any of the girls in class. He's always just wins everyone over by being super nice. There was really only one way to find out.
"So uh... Kuroumaru-kun," Doki began shyly.
"Just as a conversation topic... Is there anyone you like?"
She finally got a reaction from him as his face reddened like a tomato. Was that a 'yes'?
"Like? What do you mean by 'like'?"
"You know... Someone you want to date 'like'."
"Oh... um... W-well," Kuroumaru flustered. "I don't know. I try not to really think about it..."
"Hmm? Why not?"
"It just... is."
"Is... There someone you like," he asked, trying to stray the topic off of himself.
"Um... maybe... I don't know yet. I think so," she said shyly.
"Is it someone in our class? Do I know him?"
Kuroumaru chuckled uncomfortably.
"This really is kind of an awkward conver...," Kuroumaru began but stopped instantly and glanced up with a shocked expression.
"Kuroumaru-kun... what is it?"
At that moment she felt the odd and unexpected feeling of her body falling. She clung onto Kuroumaru tightly and screamed as they fell. Using his quick thinking Kuroumaru locked his arms and feet against the brick walls but it only served to slowly decelerate them as they continued downward. Doki didn't really see what was going on as she held her eyes shut but soon they came to a very abrupt stop and she had the air knocked out of her.
She gasped, desperate for air, as she opened her eyes to try and gain her bearings. She couldn't see anything as apparently her flashlight broke in the fall. Thankfully she felt the softness of Kuroumaru still underneath her. She silently prayed that he wasn't dead as she began to shake him.
"Kuroumaru! Are you alright? Please be alright!"
"I'm fine," she heard him say as he urged her off of him. "More importantly, are you okay?"
"Yeah, I can feel that my arm and knees are scratched up but other than that I'm fine. I-I think you broke my fall..."
"Thank goodness," she heard him say in the darkness.
She heard him shuffle around a bit and soon a light appeared. Now that she had the light that was coming out of Kuroumaru's pen she could see him clearly. He gave her a reassuring smile to try and keep her calm. She knew she probably looked like she was panicking, which she was starting to. She was thankful for his gesture but now that she could see him again something strange caught her off guard.
"You... You don't have a scratch on you! How?"
"Oh?... I-I must have just gotten lucky."
Doki grabbed his free hand and turned it to where she could see his palm. She knew that he slid it against the rough brick to slow them down and they should be a bloody mess... but other than being a bit dirty they were perfectly fine too. This was highly unusual. Kuroumaru pulled back his hand and looked away.
"Anyway, as I said I must have just gotten lucky," Kuroumaru sighed. "I'm sorry I dragged you into this Doki-chan. I knew this was a bad idea. I should have stuck to my gut instincts and left you up at the top."
Doki shook her head in retaliation. "No, I'm happy I'm here with you. I'd much rather be skinned up down here than uselessly safe up top, only worrying."
Kuroumaru tilted his head to the side a smiled. "I had no idea you were this brave Doki-chan. I'm impressed."
"No, I'm not brave at all. I'm actually scared out of my mind right now."
"Well you seem very brave to me," Kuroumaru said as he bent over and picked through the tangled rope that fell with them.
Kuroumaru examined the rope they were using and found the tattered end that caused them to fall unexpectedly. He looked concerned as he glanced up from where they fell.
"What happened," Doki asked.
"It... must have been rubbing against something and snapped," Kuroumaru said. Though Doki thought that it looked like he wasn't too sure about that answer. "I wanted to explore a bit but I think it would be best if we find a way out of here for now."
"I couldn't agree more," she said as she followed Kuroumaru as he started about the large room. "Where are we anyway?"
The walls were a combination of old looking paneling and stone. Visually it seemed to go on forever. The floors were simple, concrete, and bare.
"I don't know but wherever we it's pretty big. Let's go this way, I guess."
The two began to walk farther into the room along the wall. Eventually it led to a hallway which they decided to enter. They were walking at a slight incline and the path was a bit uneven. Doki stepped on one of those uneven sections and stumbled forward clumsily. Thankfully Kuroumaru was able to react quickly and turned to catch her when he heard her yelp. Instead of hitting the ground as she was expecting she was held steady by Kuroumaru and he helped her straighten out. She blushed furiously with embarrassment.
"Seriously!? How many times am I going to fall today?"
"It's starting to get a bit treacherous," Kuroumaru said as he took a hold of Doki's hand.
"Oh! Um," Doki said as she fumbled for words.
"It would be safer if we hold hands for a bit until we're past this part. I don't want you tripping again."
"R-right! That's a good idea. I support that idea because that idea... is good," Doki slapped her forehead for how idiotic she knew she was sounding and was it just her or did it get very hot down here?
She dared to glance at Kuroumaru who was looking at her with an amused smile. If she wasn't already down a hole she would have tried to find a new one to bury herself in. How embarrassing. Thankfully Kuroumaru didn't call her out on her mental breakdown and turned to lead her further down the corridor.
"Do you hear that," Kuroumaru suddenly asked as he slowed to a stop.
Doki listened and noted that she could hear the distinct sound of falling water quite clearly. "Is that a waterfall," she questioned in disbelief.
"Sounds like it to me too," Kuroumaru said as he started up again. "Let's go. It's coming from this direction."
Not too long after they finally exited the long passage and entered into another large, cavern like room. The walls were embedded sporadically with crystals that sparkled against Kuroumaru's light. The waterfall they heard was tall and thin, sprouting from an opening from the side and into a small pool of water in the bottom.
"Wow," Doki said. "This place is amazingly! I can't believe we have a place like this hiding underneath our school!"
"It's really pretty looking, isn't it?"
"Look," Kuroumaru said as he pointed over to a flat section a short way from the waterfall. "There's electrical outlets over there."
"Yeah, and the wires aren't imbedded in the wall. I think if we follow them we can find a way out."
"I really hope so."
Kuroumaru lead Doki over to where the outlets were and began to follow the wiring up and across the wall. His light illuminated a new section of wall and another passage was revealed where the wires were leading.
"And we've got a spiral staircase going up. Looks like our day's turning around Doki-chan!"
"Hopefully the up you're referring to leads back to school," Doki said with a laugh. "Though I have to admit Kuroumaru-kun... I'm having a surprisingly amount of fun."
"Yeah, me too. We should hang out more often. Though maybe topside next time."
"Y-yeah," Doki said blushing again for the millionth time this morning.
The staircase was long but in a few minutes they made it to the top of the staircase but further proceedings was blocked off by a plywood board with a bunch of tiny holes punched in it. Kuroumaru released Doki's hand and looked through and with everything he could see on the other side he was easily able to identify where they were at.
"It's a supply room," Kuroumaru acknowledged.
"That means we're back at school! Can we get in?"
"Yes, it looks like it will open up if we just press on it," he said and surely enough he was able to remove the panel with just a small push.
"Thank goodness," Doki said as she rushed into the supply closet.
Kuroumaru followed behind her but turned to place the panel back in place. He looked at where he came from and noted that it blended perfectly with the wall and would be unrecognizable to anyone who didn't know about the secret passage. There was a lot more to explore down there and he concluded that he would take Touta and Santa down later to map the rest out. Hopefully Karin will be happy about this potential lead.
"Kuroumaru-kun," Doki questioned as she turned toward him when she noticed he wasn't following after her.
"Yeah, I'm coming," he said as he and Doki opened the door that lead to the first floor of their school building.
Doki let out a laugh of joy and relief as she stepped into the hallway.
"That was so much fun! I can't believe all that just happened," Doki exclaimed happily.
"It was pretty exciting, wasn't it? I take it you're an adrenaline junkie?"
"I guess so. We are going back there sometime, right? Now that we know a safer way down?"
"I don't know..."
"And what have you two been doing," came a booming voice from behind them, further down the hall.
Doki and Kuroumaru turned to see the three discipline committee members rushing towards them.
"Tokisaka Kuroumaru, I'm not surprised to see you skipping class but I am mortified to see you involving typically well behaved students. And with such immoral activities," she added with an accusing frown. The two others behind were shaking their blushing heads with disappointment.
"I-immoral," both Doki and Kuroumaru stuttered in unison with their faces beat red.
"Skipping class to sneak innocent girls into a closet to... I thought you would have more tact."
"No, this is a huge misunderstanding! Ugh, what kind of person do you think I am!? We definitely were not doing anything in there," Kuroumaru said in a panic.
"Kuroumaru-kun's right," Doki shouted.
"Oh? Than what was happening?"
"I-I don't want to know the details," one of the girls said.
"I do," the other shouted with a smile.
"As I thought. I'll be using my authority as the president of the discipline committee and issuing you both lunch detention for skipping class as well as reporting this vulgar incident to the headmistress for her to review," she said as she filled out a detention slip for both of them. "I expect to see you both on the rolls for your next class, yes?"
"Yes," Doki and Kuroumaru said together, still flushed.
"Good," she said with finality as she and the others passed them with their noses held high.
Kuroumaru covered his face in both shame and mortification. He couldn't believe they actually thought him and Doki were doing... things in there. He was thankful that at least those girls weren't gossips and was decently confident that this situation wouldn't spread around school. Kuroumaru sighed and placed a hand on his head.
"Thanks for not saying anything about what we found," Kuroumaru said.
"No problem. It felt like it was something that shouldn't have been passed along to just anyone."
Kuroumaru nodded and they both stood awkwardly next to each other.
"We... should probably start heading to our next class."
"Y-yeah..." ~~Black Sheep Rehearsal~~~
The band had just finished their second run through and by the end Hitomi was looking quite pleased. This was turning out to be one of their best rehearsals yet and everything was really starting to come together nicely. In her mind if they kept this up they would definitely be ready to blow the crowd away at the upcoming festival.
"That was great," Kuroumaru exclaimed as he clapped his hands in amazement.
"Thanks," Hitomi replied enthusiastically. "Everyone did a great job, didn't they? Let's take five and run through it again."
"Kay," Ayumi confirmed as she idly spun her drum sticks with finesse as she was in habit of doing.
"How's the outfits coming along Reika," Holly asked as she went to sit by her favorite fashionista.
"Good," Reika replied as she closed her sketch book. "I have all bodices and fluff for the skirts done for all the dresses. I just need to finish sewing the actual dress part and put it all together."
"I've been working hard too. Check this out," Chloe said as she dug through her bag and pulled out multiple accessories and laid them on the desk. She pointedly picked up one decorative burgundy headband with large flowing bows on both sides. "Going off Reika's designs for what she has planned I thought this would go well with your outfit Hitomi. I think it will also make you pop more as the lead singer."
"Oh, you actually contributed something," Hitomi said with a frown.
"You ungrateful little bi-"
"Wow, that is super cute Chloe-senpai," Kuroumaru quickly said.
Chloe turned to Kuroumaru and nodded with a smile. She playfully leaned over and placed the headband on his head so he could model it for everyone. She gave him a cheeky smile to which he returned with a death glare before taking it off and passing it to Hitomi.
"Aww, you looked so cute with it on though Kuroumaru," Hitomi laughed while placing the headband on herself.
"Kuroumaru has that face that would look good with anything really," Reika said giggling.
Holly laughed as she pushed back Kuroumaru's bangs. "Seriously! He's by far the prettiest boy I've ever seen. Heck, he's prettier than most girls I've ever seen!"
Kuroumaru blushed and crossed his arms in annoyance of their teasing. He was about to retaliate until the room's door open and a teacher stepped through. The teacher looked at the instruments and then to the band members.
"Sorry kids. I'm going to have to ask you to relocate your practice somewhere else," the teacher said, looking apologetic.
"Eh? Why," Hitomi asked as she placed her hands on her hips.
"We've been getting a lot of noise complaints from the other clubs on this floor. A lot of literary clubs use this wing and you're apparently causing a distraction. Just move to one of the music rooms and there shouldn't be a problem."
"We were in one of the music rooms but another band pulled seniority and kicked us out! There aren't any more left."
"This is a large school. I'm sure you can find somewhere else that would be more suitable for your little band."
"Little band," Hitomi spat back in annoyance.
"This isn't up for debate... You're going to have to move your band somewhere else and that's final. You kids enjoy the rest of your day," the teacher said with finality and closed the door.
"Ugh! Are you serious," Holly said in frustration. "Yeah, there are a lot of rooms in this school but there's also a lot of other clubs that fight over them. Just 'finding' a new room is harder than it sounds..."
"What are we going to do," Ayumi asked. "It took us forever to find this place to practice."
"Oh," Doki said as a thought came to her. "Would that place work," she wondered quietly to herself but Hitomi easily picked up on it.
"Would what place work," Hitomi pressed in earnest. "Where?"
Doki looked to Kuroumaru who was shaking his head 'no' and making and 'x' mark with his arms to try and dissuade her from continuing.
"Uh... Well... I guess never mind. It's nothing..."
"Uh-huh. Holly," Hitomi said in an authoritive tone as she crossed her arms.
"On it," Holly replied as she cracked her knuckles and slowly approached Doki menacingly.
"W-what are you going to do," Doki asked in fear as she instinctively stepped away.
"That all depends on you, Doki-chan," Holly said with a scary sweetness.
Kuroumaru's jaw dropped on how quickly and easily the typical sweet Holly's demeanor changed to something so threatening. She reminded him of a debt collector for the yakuza. Doki looked terrified as Holly approached and seemed like she was close to crying.
"Ah... Kuroumaru-kun and I found a secret passage today that lead to a huge hidden underground area that would be perfect for us to practice! It has electricity and even a waterfall. A-and I rode on Kuroumaru's back and later held his hand," she shouted with a deep blush.
Kuroumaru slapped his forehead and how quickly she broke.
"What," Holly shouted, taken aback. "You rode on Kuroumaru's back, seriously?"
"And held his hand," Ayumi shouted with tears budding in her eyes. "That's not fair!"
"Is that seriously the information you cling to," Kuroumaru shouted in embarrassment.
Hitomi held up her hand to calm everyone down. "Let's see this place then. We'll decide when we get there if we can use it or not."
"O-okay," Doki said in defeat. "I'm sorry Kuroumaru-kun. Holly frightens me..."
"It's okay... I think she frightens me too," Kuroumaru sighed.
Hitomi had Doki lead the band down to the first level to where the supply closet that Kuroumaru and her exited earlier this morning. Kuroumaru sighed in defeat for the hundredth time along the way. Some of these girls were really pushy...
"Before we go in I just want to make one thing clear.," Kuroumaru said as the stopped in front of the closet. "Since you know about the hidden room now I can't stop any of you from going down there but I request that no one does so if I'm with you."
"You're so paranoid Kuroumaru," Hitomi said. "What's the worst that could happen?"
"Those are the words of the first person to die in all the horror movies," Ayumi laughed.
"Ayumi! Don't say horrible things like that," Reika chided.
"I'm just kidding."
"We better hurry before someone asks what we're up to," Holly mentioned as she opened the door and urged everyone in.
Kuroumaru went straight to the panel and pulled it off the wall to reveal the secret passage. All the girls gasped in excitement.
"My mom always told me about all the hidden spots around school but I never thought I would ever find one," Hitomi said in wonder.
"You didn't find crap," Chloe spat at Hitomi. "Doki and Kuroumaru did all the work and you lucked out by knowing them."
"Shut up Chloe," Hitomi growled.
"Only when you stop spouting out garbage but I suppose that would be impossibly looking at the source."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean you bleach blonde bimbo," Hitomi shouted.
"This is my natural hair color thank you very much," Chloe shouted back. "I only highlight it to bring out the color!"
"Ugh, your vanity is disgusting! Do you have any idea how stupid you sound?"
"Okay," Kuroumaru said as he stepped between the two spatting girls. "Are we going to go down or are we just going to argue up here like children?"
The both huffed in anger but backed off but in an ongoing effort to stay ahead of the other they then began to both try and forcedly lead the way down the stairs.
"Jeez," Kuroumaru sighed and turned to Reika. "Are they always like this?"
"Today seems worse than most but they both have very dominating personalities and they clash over practically everything. Hitomi is a control freak and feels the need to always take lead while Chloe means well she can be very off putting and doesn't know how to healthfully communicate her disagreements. Typically once they get started they can fight forever and we can't do anything to stop them. You defused their argument with just a sentence. I'm impressed."
"Yeay me," Kuroumaru said sarcastically as they descended the stairs together.
"It's dark down here," Holly complained as she held onto Hitomi's shoulders. "I can't properly see a thing."
Kuroumaru watched as Yuna pulled out a small wand and muttered a common illumination spell. A large ball of light appeared in her hand and she tossed it up. It slowly rose to near the top of the cavern and provided much more light than Kuroumaru could generate with his pen.
"That was really good Yuna," Hitomi praised. "I love having a wizard in the group!"
"You're a wizard Yuna," Kuroumaru asked. "I didn't know that."
Yuna looked at him and gave a soft nod.
"You couldn't tell from her uniform Kuroumaru-kun," Holly laughed.
"Guess I didn't really notice," he admitted.
"Boys," Chloe sighed and shook her head with amusement.
Kuroumaru couldn't help but smile at Chloe's comment that lumped him with all the other guys even if she meant it as a playful insult.
"Wow," Ayumi shouted as she could care less about the current conversation and ran farther into the underground room. "This place is so cool!"
"And it really does have outlets and everything," Holly said as she examined the walls. "I wonder what this place was used for. Strange it's just sitting here unused."
"Who cares," Hitomi said. "This place is perfect and since no one knows about it but us we can leave our equipment down here to save time loading and unloading. Bonuses all around."
"Look at that waterfall," Reika said in astonishment as she approached the small pond's edge. "Wow, it's so pretty. Hito would love this."
"Is that your younger bother you keep talking about," Kuroumaru asked as he scanned the surroundings for anything suspicious. Something felt off about this place but he couldn't name it.
"Yes, it is," Reika said with a smile.
"You really dote on that kid. He must be spoiled."
Reika laughed. "Yes, I suppose he is."
"Kuroumaru," Hitomi said as she approached him and Reika. "Do you think you can get all the equipment moved down here by the end of the hour?"
"Um... I guess. If I hurry."
"Perfect. We're all going to go find some lamps and some other things for down here. Take care of our instruments, okay."
"Great! Let's go Reika," Hitomi said as she grabbed Reika by the hand and dragged her away.
Kuroumaru sighed and began to head toward the stairs to head back to where they officially used to practice to get everyone's stuff moved. He was able to make quick time and was back before the others returned, which was good. He decided to do them a favor and start setting up their instruments while he waited. He probably wouldn't get everything properly set, especially all of Ayumi's drums, but he could at least get it started for them.
Being alone Kuroumaru was able to lose himself with his duties as grunt and let his mind wonder. He soon began to hum the chorus of the band's song which eventually lead to him singing it quietly to himself. He legitimately liked the song and found it annoyingly catchy. One of those songs that once it was stuck in your head it would be there for the rest of the day. At least he knew the song. He hated when he got a song stuck in his head where he only knew a couple of lines that he just repeated those same lines over and over.
While setting up Holly's keyboard the light that Yumi had created suddenly extinguished and left Kuroumaru in the dark. Sighing at the slight inconvenience he located his pen from his pocket so he could get a light source going again. Before he could light it he felt the hair on the back of his neck pick up and heard ominous shuffling from behind him. He wasn't alone he realized as he summoned his sword and turned into a defensive stance.
"Whose there," he shouted and activated the small flame on his pen. He lowered his sword when he realized who was standing there.
"It's just me," Hitomi shouted as she was grasping at the wall by the stairwell. "Jeez Kuroumaru, why do you have a sword? You're not supposed to have weapons on school campus."
Kuroumaru sighed. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's okay," she said as she walked closer. "Cool trick," she continued, pointing at his pen.
Hitomi stopped shortly ahead of him and there was something very suspicious about the gleam in her eye and the way she was smiling at him.
"W-what is it," he asked nervously. He deemed it wise to never trust this girls intentions as she always seemed to have something up her sleeve.
"You know what," she said as she leaned uncomfortably close.
"No... I don't and you're making me uncomfortable."
Hitomi giggled and placed her hands on his shoulders. "I heard you," she said in a sing-song voice.
Kuroumaru blushed when he realized what she was referring to. This was last thing he needed: something else for her to tease him about.
"O-oh. I didn't know you were listening."
"Yup, and I must say I was quite impressed... Though someone as beautiful as you having the voice to mach makes sense, I suppose..."
"Please don't tell anyone," Kuroumaru said shyly.
"Oh, I can do better than that," Hitomi said as she pulled up a screen to play the recording she made of Kuroumaru singing to himself.
"Hitomi-senpai, please delete that at once!"
"No way! This is too golden to just delete. I'm keeping it."
"Nobody can see it. It would be so embarrassing."
"I don't understand what you could be possibly embarrassed about. It was fantastic. Clear and youthful. I mean... It's obvious you don't have the musical training like I do but I could offer you private lessons and-"
"Hitomi, please no!"
Hitomi looked him over and sighed.
"... Fine, if you really feel that strongly against it I won't tell or show anybody, but I'm not deleting it. I'll just put it in a sad archive of wasted talent."
"Thank you. I really appreciate it."
"I don't know why you're thanking me. I'm not doing you any favors here. I can't think of anything worse than unused talent. And I was foolishly already planning duets we could do and everything. Sigh, my day is ruined now..."
Kuroumaru giggled. "I think your being a tad bit overdramatic."
"Probably," she replied and tapped him on his head. "Now, I'm going to teach you how to properly set up our instruments. I appreciate the effort but you did a hack job. I expect more out of my groupies."
Kuroumaru laughed as he was yanked by Hitomi to Holly's equipment and listened as she lectured him about setup placement, amps, and chords. It wasn't long after until the rest of the girls showed up with a bunch of gear where they only had enough time to dump before everyone had to rush off for their next class. ~~Later that Evening~~~
"He~ey Kuroumaru," Touta prodded as he nudged his friend in the shoulder. "Hurry up and go while we're young."
"That's a silly thing to say for people like us Touta-kun," Kuroumaru said as he was writing a message.
Touta, Kuroumaru, and Santa were sitting around the small table playing a game of cards. Kuroumaru's idea. They were all having a good time, something that Santa was surprised about since it didn't involve electronics, but Kuroumaru kept getting distracted by an onslot of texts and kept pausing the game so that he could respond.
"Who are you talking to," Santa asked.
"Ayumi right now. She's not making a lot of sense though. I think she's channeling her inner squirrel by the way she's jumping around topics. She's hard to follow."
After sending the text he played his next move allowing Touta to finally play a move he was holding on to for what felt like ages to him.
"I just can't believe they talked you into joining their band. I really can't picture it at all," Santa began. "What do you even do?"
"I help move and set up the equipment and what not... Though I honestly think I mostly serve as their amusement," Kuroumaru admitted with a smile.
"From what you've told me about them they sound like a nightmare. Why are you doing this?"
"Well... They all may be a tad bit... eccentric, but they're a lot of fun too. I also really like their camaraderie, you know?"
Touta chuckled to himself. "I wonder how long Karin is going to stay mad at you for letting them set up base in that cavern."
Kuroumaru ducked his head and sighed. "Hopefully not long. I thought she would never stop yelling at me..."
"She'll get over it," Touta said optimistically. "So when are we going to go down there and check it out, tomorrow?"
"That sounds good to me. How about you Santa?"
"I'm actually going to sit this one out. I already made plans with Ikku to go over reports with him."
"Bummer, looks like it will be just you and me then Kuroumaru."
"Fumbling around and exploring a dark cave? Brings back memories."
"Yeah! Let's just hope-"
Touta paused when he heard Kuroumaru's phone begin to ring.
"Hello," Kuroumaru answered as he lifted his hand to his ear. "Oh, hey Hitomi... You're on too Holly?" There was a pause as Touta and Santa listened to duel voices from the other side of Kuroumaru's phone app. "Just playing cards with my roommates... Yeah, I have a few minutes."
Kuroumaru muttered a silent apology to Touta and Santa before stepping away from the table and headed to the door to continue his conversation outside the door.
With his mouth agape Touta watched as his friend let out a small laugh and went through the door into the hallway, leaving him and Santa with an unfinished card game.
"Dude," Touta whined as he turned to Santa. "Did he just ditch us?"
"Yup," Santa said with annoyed expression. "Kuroumaru-niichan is turning into a popular kid... How aggravating... Wanna play video games while we wait for him to come back?"
Touta sighed and pouted as he glanced at the door. "I guess."