75-year-end party...

I was freezing on a bench in front of the station when Makoto finally arrived. If I had been five minutes later, I would have been pickled in ice. And like the mammoths of the Ice Age, thousands of years from now we'll be stared at curiously by new intelligent life.
I stood up.

'Yo, guys!
'I'm dying of cold. Let's get the hell out of here.
'Right. Is everyone here already?
'I'm sure there will be cranes.'

It's a restaurant near the station, a few minutes' walk from here. The meeting starts at 17:00, and being a punctual person, I decided to be there 15 minutes before. I arrived exactly at 16:45.

We arrived at the restaurant in no time, talking nonsense.
I brushed the snow off the soles of my shoes at the door and entered the restaurant.

Welcome! How many guests are there?
I'm the one who had a reservation at Niwatari.

The waiter looked over the reservation list, found the word "Niwatari," and immediately showed us to the restaurant.
Tsuru and Alina were already seated at the table we were shown.

'You're here already?
'I'm the organizer.

Tsuru was there as expected, but Alina was not.
Alina held out her hand as if to say she would not speak a word to us unless we gave her money. What the hell is this guy? Is this the type of AI that won't talk unless you pay for it? What a pain in the ass.

'Yes, for me and Makoto. Make sure.

Apparently Alina is the treasurer. She mumbled, 'Yes, sure,' and accepted it.
Alina's clothes, which I had expected, were surprisingly normal. A milky white sweater and jeans. It was as if the bizarre fashion I had seen at the aquarium was a lie; it was so natural. Well, the sweater's attractive nature of accentuating the lines of the body is a good thing. Oh, my God, her expression is starting to turn grim.
It is the cranes that are surprising. He is wearing a hoodie with a blood splatter pattern and messily scrawled English. He looks like an American gangster. When the cranes go to the bathroom, it's to smoke. I'm calling the cops.
Alina would probably kill me if I watched them any longer, so Makoto and I sit down a little ways away from them.

It's like a crane. ......
'Yes, I guess so. You look like a mafia girl.

I looked at the menu until everyone had gathered. Unfortunately, there was no tomato juice on the soft drink list. I had heard that there was an all-you-can-drink policy, so I asked myself, 'Maybe they have tomato juice? I had hoped that the world would not work out so well.
Japan should promote tomato juice more. Tomato juice is healthier and tastes better than coffee, which is just charcoal dissolved in water, or tea, which is just tea with sugar sprinkled on it.
As if to make fun of my state of mind, Makoto said to me, "They're offering all-you-can-drink Sprite! He happily showed me the menu list. Did he forget that I am a tomato juice lover? Yes, he forgot. So, as if to drive me to despair, he points at the soft drinks on the menu.
I was getting angry to the point of hallucination, and I really hallucinated. Tomato juice appeared before my eyes like a skater. The can I loved so much slid down the slide.

You love it, don't you?

Alina muttered as she counted the bills.
For a moment, I saw Alina Hinoha as the goddess Aprodite, one of the twelve Olympians in Greek mythology. My dissatisfaction with the numerous Alinas had evaporated, and only awe remained in my heart. I folded my hands and thanked her.

'Thank you, Goddess. ......

Makoto pretended to be a stranger to the public. Alina and Tsuru completely ignored her and started chatting together. It seems that even reverence is not allowed in this world.

One after another, people arrived, and by 17:00, everyone was already there.
There were 14 of us. Most of them were classmates of mine and Alina's. We each ordered a drink of our choice, and when we had enough for everyone, the year-end party began. By the way, I ordered grapefruit juice. It's good for fatigue.
Tsuru stood up with a glass in his hand.

Thank you for gathering here today! How is everyone spending their winter break?

Sleep, watch TV, play with Ugin. It's an endless loop.

I'm sure they are having a great time. I'm sure the comet in the corner is spending his days sleeping and rotting.
'Of course not. The day before yesterday I was planting trees in the Australian desert. I even danced with the Aborigines. I'm so full of life I think I'm going to explode.

I think I was playing chess with Ugin the day before yesterday. I remember losing in a heap.


All right, cheers.
The clinking of glasses started the year-end party.
The meat arrives and I immediately use tongs to arrange it on the net.

'Ah, Comet, let me help you.
'Thanks Makoto. Please put the vegetables over there, too.

Around Makoto and I were Toma Asakura, the head of the newspaper club, Shinji Miyazaki, the head of the art club, and Gento Meren, a member of the tea ceremony club. The five of us men are all standing around Makoto. We are a group of professionals from the newspaper club, art club, tea ceremony club, badminton club, and homecoming club.

'Next year will be the end of my high school life. ......'

Shinji muttered in a melancholy tone of voice as he looked at the sizzling meat.

'It's the last year! Well, what's everyone's career path!

Toma asks with the same energy.

I'm going to go to college for fine arts. I'm going to be busy with exams next year.
'I'm taking exams too! I want a job in the media in the future!
'Humanities, maybe. Tea ceremony has nothing to do with it.
I'm going to a vocational school to become a chef.

Each seems to be moving forward with an eye on the future. I envied them because I had no idea what I wanted to do or what I was aiming for.

What about comets?
My parents want me to go to college, so I'm going to go into the sciences. I haven't decided about my future yet.
'Well, there's no rush. If you go to university, it will open up even more doors for you.
'I hope so.

The meat was cooked well, and the group of men began to poke it with chopsticks. They all slurp 'yummy, yummy, yummy' and keep popping the meat into their mouths. d*mn, if only we had some tomato juice ......, I thought, and then I remembered the tomato juice that the goddess Alina had given me earlier.
I heard the sound of air leaking out and a faint smell of tomatoes wafting in the air. Phew, my nostrils are going crazy. I took a sip, and my whole body went numb.

It's so good!
'That's great. Comets like that, don't they?
'I can't stop until I die.

I whispered to Makoto as I felt better.

'Shall I let you sit next to Ryuka?
'What? No, you can't! It's no longer a girls' night out next to each other.
'No problem. I can do anything now.
'I'm just worried ......'
'Trust me.'

I started thinking without waiting for Makoto's reply.
Let's be clear. The situation is grim. Me and Makoto on the seat side. Shinji, Toma, and Gento in the chairs. Next to Makoto are Yuri Hiiragi, Shirana Namiki, Ran Miyanaka, and Ryuka Miyanaka, who are the heads of the women's tennis team, and between Makoto and Ryuka, there are three walls. The difficulty is high because these barriers have to be removed.
Think of a way to bring them together in a natural way, Comet Sakakiki. You are in the best condition now. You can do seven-digit multiplication by heart, and your mind is so sharp that you can hear and respond to up to fifty voices. In this condition, winning the high school quiz is no more than a dream.
And then I was struck by a revelation.
I took the can in my hand and called out to Makoto.

I'm going to pick up a girl.

I stood up, climbed over Makoto, turned around, and sat down next to Ryuka. The girls looked at me as if they were looking at a filthy vermin at my sudden arrival.

Hi, Ryuka! I see your Japanese beauty is still alive and well today.
'...... Thanks?'

The perceptive Ryuka seems to have caught on to my intentions. That's the way it's done, Ryuka Mimori. She's not like the other girls. Especially with Arina in front of me. Look at her. She's like a prosecutor confronting a criminal.
I continued.

'What's your favorite food, Ryuka? I'll take you to a restaurant sometime, okay?''
'......? Food?

Was this question too cryptic? I know it's a dummy question, but did I confuse you?

'Hey, comet. What's with you and picking on Ryuka?'

Serious Gyaru Tsuru made a comment to me. Okay, that's good. Say more.

Wait, Tsuru-kun. I'm talking to Ryuka. Will you stay out of this? Go pick up a ball in the outfield or something.'
'I hope you'll go away because the meat won't taste so good. On a cellular level.
'Please leave me alone, Alina. I want to look at you and Ryuka and talk to you.

Wow, I really feel like I can do anything.

Oh my god. Makoto! Comet's trying to get Ryuuka!

Oh, no, no, no, no! Nice one, Tsuru! This trend is a pattern of Makoto changing places with me!
But Makoto was in a seriously bad mood. He was staring at me with the same exclusive look as the girls. I wonder if this is how cancer cells are feeling when they are threatened by antibiotics.

Comet. Get out of my way.

One extremely emotionless and intimidating word. Makoto says this to me and halfway forcibly screws his ass between me and Ryuka.

(It's ok ...... this is ok ......)

For a friend.
I'm not afraid of being treated as a 'public enemy'.
When I returned to my seat, I was surprisingly encouraged by the group of men. But for some reason, my plate was overflowing with meat.

'The comet did well. ......'

Shinji tapped me on the shoulder with a voice full of sympathy. Toma shook my hand. Gento brought me a cup of oolong tea.

'Thank you ...... thank you guys ......'

The world is not so bad. It's a wonderful thing, this world, to be so moved by friendship.

It's really creepy.

Alina said as if to throw up.