Chapter 5

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The day to turn in our assignments is finally here. Me and [l/n] haven't interacted much since we finished our assignment last week, but unfortunately I think that's going to change.

I hadn't really thought about it until later, but [l/n]'s talent for drawing could draw attention. To my relief, rather than presenting in front of the class, the way of turning in this assignment is to pick a spot on the display wall and put it up for the class to see as they walk by. Thankfully, no one really cares about others' assignments, so we shouldn't have much opportunity to stand out.

I was almost right. But I always seem to forget one troublesome character.

A blur of blue appears in the corner of my eye. 'What!? The writing part is pretty average, but
[l/n]'s drawings are perfect! Even better than- No! No one is better than me. Next time we have to pair up for art class, I'll make sure she's my partner. I'll show her who's better!'

What a pain, looks like [l/n] unknowingly made herself a target too. I would feel bad for her if it weren't for the fact that this will cause problems for me too. Knowing Teruhashi, it won't take long for her to get her way. The universe bends to make her wishes come true, so it's only a matter of time.

It doesn't take long for Teruhashi to draw the attention of the most inconvenient people I can think of.

"What are you looking at so seriously, Kokomi?" Yumehara nudges Teruhashi's shoulder playfully, snapping her out of her thoughts.

Teruhashi's waves her hands in a panic. "Oh, nothing! There's just a lot of interesting drawing- I mean assignments from our classmates, that's all!"

Yumehara takes a glance at the assignment in front of Teruhashi. "Oh wow, that drawing is really good!"

Teruhashi's eyebrow twitched. 'Don't say 'oh wow' to that!'

It's not meant like that.

Yumehara squints. "I can't find the names on it though- Oh wait, here they are!" She points at the bottom corner where our names are written in a fine print. [l/n] and I both agreed that we didn't want our names to be visible at first glance, but our efforts were in vain.

"Huh? [l/n] and Saiki? That's a surprise. I wonder which one of them made the drawings."

A drop of sweat rolled down Teruhashi's face. "W-who knows?"

'Obviously [l/n], Saiki didn't even try to draw me that time we were partners in art class. Unless-?'

Wait, what are you thinking?

'Maybe he was so humiliated that even if he was good at drawing, he didn't want me to see the little mistakes. Maybe it was him after all!'

Yeah that's definitely not it.

Teruhashi turned to Yumehara with a smile. "Let's go ask, I'm pretty curious myself." My mouth straightens into a thin line. Honestly I don't know what I expected. I should stop having hope that anything will ever go my way.

All I can do is brace for the inevitable as they approach us.

Teruhashi trots up to us with Yumehara at her side. "Hey guys! The drawings on your assignment look great! Who drew them?"

[l/n]'s brow lowers skeptically, but she lifts a hand slightly. Teruhashi's expression almost falters. "Wow, really? I had no idea you were so talented! We should partner up in art class sometime!"

'No thanks.'

[l/n]'s involuntary thoughts almost catch me off guard. But if she feels strongly enough about wanting to avoid Teruhashi's manipulation for me to be able to hear her without any effort, I guess I'll help her.

Once they leave, I get to the point. 'If you want to avoid having to deal with her, I recommend staying away from me.'

[l/n] raises a brow. "What, are you referring to her obsession with you?"

'How do you know about that?'

"The same way you do. She makes it pretty obvious by the way she got jealous that I sit next to you and got to do an assignment with you."

I guess she has a point. It's just that no one else seems to notice. I was almost convinced that Teruhashi had mind control powers too, but I guess not quite.

Not long after Teruhashi and Yumehara leave, Kaido and company come over too. Kaido greets me in his usual conceited tone. "Hey Saiki, how did you do on your assignment?"

He leans on our desk. "[l/n], you worked with him right? I feel bad for you. With Saiki as your partner, I guarantee you got 90th. That's what Saiki always gets."

He's right. Since she did so well with her drawing, I had to slack off a bit on the writing part to lower our overall score. I feel kind of bad, but I've come this far to maintain others' perception of me as average, I can't break that now.

Speaking of others' perception, I should check to see if she finds me more normal after hearing that.

'He gets exactly average on every assignment? That in itself isn't average.'

Wait, that's not what I wanted! I glance at [l/n], who's giving me an unreadable expression. 'Is he trying to get an average score every time? How can he do that intentionally even if he wanted to?'

I feel a bead of sweat roll down my face. Damn it Kaido, why'd you have to point that out?

I'm not sure what to do. No one has ever questioned it before besides maybe Akechi, but he's a special case. She might not be as perceptive as him, but she's not far off. Maybe I should erase her memory. What's she thinking now?

'He obviously doesn't want to talk about his scores. I guess I won't ask-'

Nendo suddenly interrupts my panic. "Hey, your my buddy's new partner! Just remember I'm his number one partner, alright? You want to join us for ramen after school?"

Hey, don't interrupt her thoughts while I'm trying to read them.

[l/n] just blinks at the sudden invitation. My expression is the same. Why is Nendo trying to involve another side character?

She takes a glance at me and hesitates before shaking her head. I didn't need to read her mind to know why. She could pick up that I didn't want her around me. Knowing that made me feel a little guilty.

It wasn't personal, I didn't really want anyone around me. At least I thought I didn't until my powers disappeared that one time. Now that I think about it, her low-energy personality could possibly balance things out.

'I don't mind.'

Nendo raised a brow before smiling and playfully punching me in the arm. "Of course not, my buddy always likes new company."

'Don't say that.'

Kaido chimed in, putting a bandaged hand across his face dramatically. "If Saiki doesn't mind, I guess it's alright then, right Aren?"

Oh, I forgot Kuboyasu was here too. He grins. "Yeah sure, why not? Just know I'm not going to trust a transfer student so easily."

'You're a transfer student too.'

[l/n] finally nodded before sparing me a glance in acknowledgment.

There. Ramen with one extra tag-along shouldn't be so bad.

Kaido interjected again. "But you'd probably feel weird being the only girl. Let's invite Teruhashi and Yumehara too."



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