“Alice,” I started again, pausing but finding the words to continue, “I'm lucky that you care about me. Even though I probably don't deserve it. I don't like seeing you angry, you know. I think a smile suits you much better.”
“...what are you trying to say?” Alice made a difficult expression, looking about as uncertain as her question.
“I'm not sure. I'm saying thank you but that's not all I want to tell you.” I scratched my head trying to get to my point, if I had any. It was awkward to see her look at me expectantly and apprehensively. “I'm sure it's hard dealing with me, I'm not always as grounded as I could be and not always as appreciative as I should be. Uh this is hard to say if you keep staring at me like that...”
“I'll look away then,” she took me more seriously than I hoped. Alice turned away and faced the wall, prompting me to continue to blather on.
“Anyways! What I wanted to underscore was that I'd rather see you happy than mad or sad. It... feels better to see you not hung up on unpleasant things. It makes me feel better as well, I don't know if that makes sense or not.” I spoke what came to mind, not really filtering my thoughts properly. As a result I started saying things that didn't necessarily follow logically, “we've been neighbors so long that you're kind of my point of reference for how everything else turns out, you know. Sort of like looking out of the window in the morning and seeing a clear sky and expecting it to be a fine day. So yeah!” I tried to snap back to something like my original statement, “if you're happy then it's easier to feel at ease. I see you smile and I think to myself, 'hey maybe it'll all be alright'....”
I laughed nervously. That came out stranger than I had hoped. Slightly embarrassing as well.
“...” Alice didn't say anything. I realized that she was being considerate enough not to interject until I had finished saying everything that I wanted to say. As her back was turned to me, I couldn't see what kind of face she was making. All I had to go on was the back of her slender neck and, while it was visually pleasing to look at for some reason, it lacked the expressiveness of a human face.
“Yeah, sorry for taking so much of your time,” I said just as the bell rang. “I feel like I owe it to you to do something nice together sometime. You know, so you're not always upset with me. Like I said, I like seeing you happy so it's only natural to want to do something about it. That sound good?”
“Sounds nice,” she agreed, starting to turn back to face me. While still hard to read properly, the apprehension was markedly gone.
She was about to say more but there was a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach again. I cut her off before she could say anything, “we should get back to class, we're late as is. Next is Mima, right? She promised to make me suffer if I was late to one of her classes again.”
“Sod class,” Alice stated crudely. “I'm in no rush to go.”
“What?” I was completely surprised. Alice was the most responsible person I knew, save maybe for Reimu. For her to suggest forgetting about class was about as likely as for the moon to spontaneously explode. About as destructive for my sense of reality too. I had to do a double take, “we don't want to arrive to class after the teacher does.”
“Some things in life are more important than class,” she said quite seriously.
“I don't know what's gotten into you, but there's a time and a place for everything,” I argued in a strange case of role reversal. Never in my life had I pushed to rush off into class rather than put it off. “Let's go, you shouldn't get into trouble at my expense.”
“It's fine,” she disagreed. Stubborn and looking as taciturn as she usually did. But for all of the 'wrong' reasons.
“It isn't!” I insisted as I stepped in to grab her hand. “Let's go already!”
Though it was clear that she wanted to say something else, maybe protest some more, she didn't really put up much of a fight. She came along easily with me. Down the stairs, through the corridor and to the classroom. Almost everyone had made it back, only a few stragglers remained (who would be written up for tardiness). I let go of her hand by the class door. She didn't want to move on her own.
“We need to go in. Don't worry about getting chewed out. You go ahead first. I'll come in a few moments later and get become the new target for the teacher's ire. You'll get away with a slap on the wrist.”
“...” Alice hesitated to move.
“Come on,” I nudged her, “it'll be be fine.”
“That's not it. I just wanted to tell you some important things,” she looked uneasy, breaking eye contact.
“It can wait, right?”
“I'm sure it can. What's important now is to get through classes.”
The door slid open. A crossed-armed Mima stood with a particularly intense look of irritation. Beyond her the rest of the class was staring over, alternating looks of amusement and pity on their faces.
“Oh, yo,” I greeted her with my most charming smile, “you look particularly lovely today. Have you done something different with your hair?”
“Don't let me interrupt this little scene here,” she said cooly, “go on, finish whatever this is. We can all put class on hold until you're done.”
Alice was quick to the draw, “I'm sorry I made us late for class, my apologies Ms. Mima.”
“Hey, she's just saying that,” I shrugged, “you know how I'm a good-for-nothing, I just dragged her away. So if anyone has to take responsibility for disrupting class and being late, it's me.”
“No-” Alice began to insist.
“Shut up already,” I snapped at her, acting the part I was best at. “You know me, Mima sweetie, I just wanted something from her so I dragged her out of class. Turns out that I forgot to bring any money for lunch, you know, so I was bartering in advance for some of hers. Yeah, yeah, busted, I know, but hey, a guy needs to be resourceful. Childhood friends are easy to guilt like that.”
“'Sweetie'?” Mima frowned, “it's like you're trying to dig yourself into a deeper hole.”
“Nah, just telling it how it is. You're the loveliest and nicest teacher around. I'm lucky to be in your class.”
“Transparent flattery won't get you anywhere,” she cautioned.
“Right, I shouldn't be patronizing, gotcha,” I smiled, “geez, you're too clever for me, Mima honey.”
The class laughed, amused by my verbal ballet.
It looked like it had worked and I was about to get the reprimand of a lifetime when an eager soul added an unwelcome interruption to the exchange. “Hey teach!” Suika called on over from her seat, “Go easy on them, won't you? They were having a bit of a tiff earlier. You know how these school couples are, always hung up on some petty drama.”
“Is that a fact?” Mima raised an eyebrow, clearly ticked at the prospect. I cursed Suika and all of her ancestors. Revenge was a dish best served lukewarm apparently and she certainly was serving it out. Mima continued, “This is a most surprising development. I thought you'd do better than this clod, Ms. Margatroid.”
“Um-” Alice was at a loss for words, being put into a spot unfairly like that. Even if she wanted to deny something outright the eyes of the whole class were on her. There was much invisible pressure on her to say something that they could laugh and gossip about. No doubt she knew that even if she denied it outright it would cause them to have fun at my expense. She wasn't about to hurt me if she could avoid it. I knew her too well.
I had to take the fall for myself. Thinking on my feet was what I specialized at. Something juicy but somehow plausible was the way to go. Two things with minimal collateral damage occurred to me.
 “I was planning a big surprise for my fiancée, Marisa, and needed some help.”
 “I'm in love with Mima. Alice was giving me advice. I can't bear to live a lie any longer!”
Actually all you need is to fill up the dream gauge to max. You should then be able to autocollect Reimu, Marisa, Yuuka and Mima.