Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
“Dude, I told you I ain’t got no money! I’m super poor… I’ll just get the water.”
“Oh, okay. Then, water is fine. I’ll have two café au lait, ma’am.”
“Yes, of course!”
For some reason, I, Rio Hayakawa, had to grab a bite with Hirano. Damn, and I have part-time in the afternoon, too… Though, why did he ask for two drinks?
“… I don’t need your pity. I’m not so far gone I can’t afford a drink.”
“Ha? I’m gonna drink both. You’re the one who misunderstood me, Hayakawa.”
“I hope so…”
I really don’t know what this guy is thinking. This morning he just barged into my house, right after following me home after school mind you, and yoinked me out.
My sister made a fuss after seeing him since he looked just like her favorite idol.
“Are you Hayakawa’s sister…? I’m Hirano, his friend. I’mma just borrow him real quick.”
His tone was kind for some reason, and he even told me “Take good care of your sister”… What the hell, the first time I saw him, I thought he was just another jerk.
I decided to just drink the water and keep him company for a bit.
“So, I think Reika likes my friend, Toshiki. You should just give up.”
Even though these words were coming out of my mouth, I was also talking to myself. A year ago I crushed on Hikari Kawano, and I was elated when she confessed to me.
But I experienced despair upon the reveal it was all a prank. I even thought I’d never love again… But when I met Sakashita, that tomboyish girl, my heart was just pierced through.
I could never tell him about it though… I know that he, of all people, needs Sakashita to mend his broken heart, even more so after ten years of suffering from his crush on Mashima.
And despite what I felt then, I don’t trust love at first sight… That’s what Hikari taught me.
Still, Toshiki probably likes her back, even though he doesn’t realize it.
Regardless, it’s not my place to be.
“I’ve heard you say that a million times, but this is love at first sight. I never liked anyone other than my sister… Wow, love at first sight sure is real.”
“Are you a siscon?! Haah, if I looked as good as you, I’d be able to go out with anyone.”
“Huh? You wanna go out with someone you don’t like? You stupid or somethin’?”
“… Oh, y–you’re right…”
Hirano was a bit different from the punks who bullied me. I got hit by him a lot, but just for spite I asked him, “Why do you hit your classmates?”, to which he replied, “I’m just playing.”
Guess he really thinks he’s only playing around.
“Listen, I’m not saying you shouldn’t get into fights, but just be a bit quieter in the classroom.”
“I never cared about that before… My sis said she liked strong men.”
“Huh, what about that sister of yours… How old is she now?”
“… Fifteen… She would be fifteen today.”
His way of putting it was odd, and his expression was of deep sadness. Perhaps I touched something I shouldn’t have.
Hirano then began muttering as he sipped his café au lait.
“Toshiki Sawada… Hey, if I beat that guy, can I go out with her?”
“Why the hell would you do that?! It’s impossible! She’d hate you even more!”
“It’s a no then, huh. I thought Sakashita liked strong men, and Sawada isn’t as strong as me… Though he ain’t weak either.”
“Don’t ever fight with him. He’s my best friend, and if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t even be at this school.”
“Gotcha, gotcha, I ain’t gonna fight… Hm? Are those guys from our class?”
Out of the corner of his eye, Hirano caught the sight of the three boys who bullied me, and… Hikari, having drinks together.
No amount of proof can erase the trauma of being bullied. Just looking at them makes my heart shrink to a pea. To be honest, it’s daunting… The right thing to do is to somehow stay out of sight and hush.
Hikari is Mashima’s best friend, who’s treated like a princess by the whole school. As her friend, Hikari is recognized as part of the popular group.
But I know something no one else knows. When we were “dating”, I used to go home with Hikari about once a month. The topic then would always be complaints about Mashima.
They pretended to be good friends, but Hikari had one hell of a grudge against Mashima. She was deprived of guys she loved many times during middle school. The boyfriend she was dating at the time fell for Mashima, whose cronies made fun of that situation… “I want to make her fall someday,” she’d vented.
Despite loving Hirano, Hikari had many men on the side. Some were even lower-level underground fighters. Regardless, Hirano was her true love —At least that’s what Mashima suddenly told me one day.
It was then I really realized something: Women are scary.
And frankly, I don’t wanna see those guys until the day I’m six feet under. My prayers were answered, and they left after getting take-out.
I sighed in relief.
“Ah! Hayakawa-senpai! It’s so rare to see you having tea. Hm? You’re not with Sawada-senpai?”
“Whoa! You surprised me… Be careful, Nakajima.”
“What do you mean? Aren’t you happy to see such a beautiful girl in front of you?”
“But it’s Nakajima, right?”
“Hmph! —You dunce!”
Hirano then suddenly touched my hand. Hey, dude, that’s disgusting!
“Is she your friend too? If that’s so, she must be Sakashita’s friend, right?”
“Well, that’s the way it is. Hirano, this is Toshiki’s junior, her name is Moe Nakajima. Nakajima, this is Satoshi Hirano. We became friends by chance.”
“Oh, I–I’m Moe Nakajima… Nice to meet you.”
“What, you went silent because you’re in front of some himbo now?”
“Ha?! I value personality over face! … More importantly, don’t be late for your part-time job today. I’m still getting used to the job, so, yeah…”
“Hmm? You’re on shift today too? We’re always together, somehow. Okay, I’ll give you some pointers today as well.”
“… Mkay, thanks.”
She answered quite honestly. Despite always teasing me, she’s never serious about it. Nakajima is also very cute, and her smile is honest… Yeah, she likes Toshiki, so I shouldn’t make a mistake and misunderstand it.
“Well, I’d better get going.”
“Ah~ Sorry it’s me and not Toshiki!”
“Dunce! Haah… You’re so dense,” she muttered at the end.
“Hm? You said something?”
“Nah, it’s nothing. See you later!”
Nakajima then waved her hand and left the store. Huh? She didn’t order anything at all.
Hirano then looked at me with squinted eyes and sighed.
“… Maybe I made a mistake in asking you for love advice… How the hell did she fall for you?”
“What? No no no no no! She likes Toshiki, right?”
“You’re an idiot… Y’know what, the person herself should say it. I know what I’m talking about since I’m in love.”
Hirano spouted uselessly cool lines, and I just nodded along. At that moment, a ping came from his phone, and he looked at the notification with an uncomfortable look.
Putting his phone down, he looked at me.
“I’ve gotta go.”
“What? Where are you going? I mean, I have to work this afternoon, so how about you?”
“I see… You’re poor and you need the money.”
“I–It’s not for my family, it’s my living expenses!”
“… You’re funny, you know that? You’re poor, you love your sister, and you’re terribly blunt… We’re the same, aren’t we?”
“Ha? Same as who? B–Besides, I don’t l–like my sister… She’s just i–important ‘cause she’s f–family…”
He laughed at my flustered fidgeting.
“There’s still time, right? … Hmm, you work out, don’t you?”
… Sure, I do muscle training at home so the bullying doesn’t hurt as much. I didn’t gain muscle at all, though.
He just smiled at me and stood up. Holy damn, I’m a guy and even I have to admit he’s handsome. Damn it, God, why do I look like myself!
“If you’re being bullied, fight back. I’ll teach you how to fight, so c’mon, play with me, bro.”
He was different from how he usually acted in class. Although he seemed childlike and happy, I saw a little tinge of sadness within him.
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