Chapter 31: Odds are
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The moment Fukuna had been waiting all day had finally arrived. It was time for the annual haunted forest event. Of course, for her she was hoping for the rare chance that she’d go in their alone with Tahiko. Then, she’d be able to afford that precious alone time, during a memorable moment to be able to confess to him. Were things to go well, then he’d accept and they could become a couple.

Meanwhile, he was more excited to see what was inside this dark spooky forest. So much so, that Amasa needed to prep him for it.

“Now remember, this is just something set up by the staff.” She explained to him that there was going to be some markers for them to follow. Where randomly they’d get jump scared by some teachers in costumes and other sorts. “So whatever you do, don’t hurt them.”

“I got you, don’t worry about that.” He took to heart what she told him and placed his name into the raffle box. This was how those who wished to participate were picked out. As mentioned before, this presented a good opportunity, albeit a rare one, to go alone with someone one might have feelings for. They were high school teens after all, so it wasn’t as uncommon as one might think.

Fukuna quickly placed her name into the one reserved for girls. Right after her also included her friends, who were interested in seeing if any boys in this school could live up to the task of ‘protecting’ them from potential monsters.

“Are you going to put your name in there too?” Amasa asked Chisa, taking note that the girl had her own slip of paper.

“Um, no!” She quickly tried to hide it by pushing the scrap into her chest, but her attempts were futile. “Well, maybe…” It was also something she wished to have happen. The girl would love if perhaps she could go in with Tahiko, no matter how slim the odds.

“Are you sure? It’s not really likely that Tahiko’s going to be picked with you.” Amasa warned her. She didn’t want that girl to jump into a situation she didn’t want to be in. Especially since it appeared she didn’t have any friends outside that boy. Not to mention that given what she had been told by Fukuna, that perhaps Chisa had the same plans as well.

“I’m… Sure.” She took a deep breath and tried to steel her nerves. As scary and risky as this was, Chisa did want to have a chance. No matter how small. “Besides, even if it’s not him I’m sure everyone here is nice.” Hopefully, there weren’t any boys interested in her right now. The girl wasn’t sure how she’d be able to turn someone down.

“Hm…” Now that was two, Amasa was feeling a bit worried for some reason. She didn’t like Fukuna, so she could chalk up her issues there. However, Chisa had been nothing but a nice girl, so she shouldn’t take issue with her. “Should I?” In her mind, she considered dropping her name in there as well.

She hadn’t been planning to. Why would she? This was about going into a forest all alone with a boy, and given she had no feelings towards anyone, surely she wouldn’t bother with the chance. However, she began to consider it when Fukuna announced her plans. Now that Chisa was a part of it, Amasa believed that maybe she should try to.

But why? Well, obviously there was only one person she’d want to go in there with. However, that didn’t explain why she would want to be with Tahiko. Though, to anyone who wasn’t her, the answer was plain to see. There was no chance she’d allow either of those two girls the chance at him if she could do anything about it.

She shouldn’t do it, that was what was going on her mind. Yet at the same time, her body moved as if acting on its own. Before she knew it, the girl grabbed a piece of paper, wrote her name on it, and placed it into the box. “What am I doing?” She asked aloud as she stepped away. It was something she’d have a hard time explaining to herself, a reason that didn’t involve embarrassing herself.

“I guess I was right all along.” Fukuna mocked her as she returned to the group. It wasn’t her ploy to get her to silently admit her feelings by announcing her plans, but it certainly worked out in that direction. “You’re such a brocon.”

“Am not.” She responded, already regretting her decision. “Besides, why do you think it’s because of him? Maybe I just happen to like some other guy.”

“Because he’s the only boy that’s somewhat friendly with you?” After all, no one else was Amasa’s friend anyway, so it wasn’t like anyone appeared to be interested in her. Not to mention with the lack of eyes on her, even in a skimpy outfit. “Whatever, it’s not like you’re going to get with him.”

“Neither are you.” Honestly, their hopes were a bit pointless given the odds. He was literally one boy out of dozens, so the chances were slim either of them would join him in the forest. Though it was better to take that shot than just letting some other random girl come with him. If anything, given his popularity, this was going to be a boy who got confessed to regardless of who was with him. Unless it was Amasa, there was no way she’d do that.

Then, once all the people who wanted to participate had their names placed in. Next came the announcements of who everyone was going to be paired with. Two-by-two, more and more people got their partners and were being given instructions on what to do while in the forest. As students entered the forest, the main group were still waiting for their names to be called.

“Now we’ve got, Tahiko Matia.” Then, when he was mentioned, a lot of people’s ear’s perked up on it. A few prayers were also likely made during this short bit of a pause. “You’ll be going in the forest with Chisa Ida.”

“What?” Chisa’s heart skipped a beat upon hearing that. Was she dreaming? Did she mishear. “Me? With… Him?”

“What!?” She wasn’t the only one in disbelief on this news. Amasa and Fukuna were both equally surprised that somehow she had managed to obtain that through such low odds.

“Well isn’t that nice.” On the other hand, Tahiko was just glad that he’d be going in with someone he knew. “Well then Chisa, let us go in together.”

“R-right, let’s.” Nervously, she walked next to him as they went to the staff to get their instructions. She couldn’t do anything to stop her heart from racing well about 200 beats per minutes.

“For safety reasons, please make sure to always hold your partner’s hand at all times.” They were informed by the staff. Of course, this only served to freak her out even more as it was Tahiko who she had to hand hold with.

“Well, you heard what they said.” He offered his hand to her, not caring as much about it as she did. “Wouldn’t want you running off all scared.” Tahiko laughed, realizing how timid this girl could really be.

“R-right…” She felt her neck stiffen up as the girl slowly moved her hands onto his. Then, the boy clasped his fingers around hers, only serving to cause her to feel constant tension as they entered the forest.

Meanwhile, both Amasa and Fukuna were disappointed with the news they had received. The latter much more so, now knowing her opportunity at a confession was doomed.

“Ah great… Now I’m going to be stuck with some random boy.” She quipped as the pair hung their heads in disappointment. Though reality would play an even more cruel joke on her as the pairings went on. Soon enough, all of the boy’s names had been called, yet she and Amasa had still not gotten paired with anyone.

“Um, what’s the problem?” Amasa asked as she watched the staff attempt to look through the boxes. Unsurprisingly, it is not possible to achieve an equal number of boys and girls. So the idea of pairing things in that manner was going to leave some behind on the hope of attending.

Unfortunately for Amasa and Fukuna, they were the only two left without partners. So the staff came up with the brilliant idea of just having them pair up without care of the generally rules set in place.

“I can’t believe I’m stuck with you.” Fukuna complained. She was already not looking forward to being with some random boy who was after her, but being with this girl was even worse. “This day can’t possibly get any worse.”

“Whatever, just don’t hold my hand.” Amasa responded. Unfortunately, the staff required that they were only allowed in by doing exactly that. So the pair had to hand hold as they entered the forest, both upset and flustered with doing so where they let go as quickly as possible when they were out of sight.

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