“…hmmm…a little after 9:00…”
He woke up very late.
Even if he hurried to get ready, he would be completely late for school, but it’s a holiday, so he’s fine. Yuuji never makes the mistake of oversleeping. He is a diligent student who is never late or absent, or in other words, a model student.
“I went to bed pretty early last night, come to think of it…I’m really thirsty, let’s get something to drink.”
He headed for the living room.
“That’s why! What do you think, Yuka? It’s bad, isn’t it?”
“Haha, that’s really funny…what’s that?”
Then, he heard women talking to each other inside. The scene from the day before yesterday passed through Yuuji’s mind, but this time it seems to be a little different.
Perhaps Yuka had invited her friends over to her house. Yuuji opened the door to the living room, thinking it was noisy early in the morning.
“What’s going on? Huh? Isn’t that Yuka’s little brother? I think it’s…Yusuke-kun, right?”
“Hey, what’s with you Santa Maria, grabbing someone’s little brother?”
“No one said that!”
“His name is Yuuji… and if you ever mistake my brother’s name again, you’ll be banned, okay?”
“Wow! The punishment is too heavy! I mean, how much do you love your brother?”
“What? It’s not like that!”
“You’re so red-faced, it’s hilarious.”
─They’re so crude. They make a fool of themselves in the morning… You should at least choose your friends, sister.
That’s the kind of people you hang out with, that’s why you turn out to be a delinquent.
Yuuji sipped his orange juice and stared at them with a contemptuous gaze. Yuka’s friend noticed the glare and looked away in disgust.
Yu, Yuuji…? What is it? What’s wrong with you? If you stare at her like that, Mai will be surprised, won’t she? Or are you just mad that she got your name wrong? You’re right, Santa Maria isn’t a name.”
“Nothing, I just thought you were being a little classy with your morning fussiness.”
“Yuuji! What are you talking about?”
“You’re so mean! Haha, as expected of siblings!!”
Yuka’s friend is laughing.
She was laughing so hard because what he just said sounded like something Yuka would say, so she was laughing rather hard because she felt that they are related by blood. He doesn’t feel offended at all.
But Yuka is different.
The Yuuji she has seen over the years is not the kind of person who would say something rude to someone he has just met.
He only makes jokes and slightly pokes fun at people he has forgiven. At least, he is not the kind of brother who would say something horrible to his sister’s friend.
“I’m going out for a minute.”
“Yusuke-kun, come on!”
Santa Maria left the living room uncomfortably. Yuka could only silently watch her brother’s back as he left.
─Where shall we go?
I don’t have any particular plans, but I feel like walking outside as a distraction. That’s why I left home…hmm?
When Yuuji approached an intersection, he found an old woman struggling with her heavy luggage and unable to cross the street. Yuuji was about to give her a hand but quickly reconsidered.
(…I’m sure that if I try to help her with her luggage, they will frame me as a thief. That’s how they intend to make me a criminal. She looks like a kind old woman, but I never thought that she was thinking like that in her heart… She is a terrible old woman who takes advantage of people’s good intentions…)
Yuuji decided not to help the old lady.
Up until yesterday, Yuuji would have definitely helped her. But now, just because she is a woman, he is afraid to trust her.
Yuuji realized once again that his sense of values had really changed.
Still, the moment he passed by, his chest ached with guilt… but he told himself that he was doing it to protect himself.
“Thank you very much.”
“Yes, thank you!”
He stops by a used bookstore in his neighborhood, buys three copies of his favorite manga, and starts walking toward the park.
He is now going to buy juice from a vending machine in the park and read the manga while sipping it on a bench.
“Onii-chan, may I have a word with you?”
He was walking toward the park when he was suddenly approached from behind. He turned around to see what was wrong… and there was a female elementary school student he did not recognize.
Yuuji became very wary.
(It’s not good…elementary school girls are monsters, the kind of creatures that would ring a security buzzer with impunity. And it’s even worse when it’s someone you don’t recognize at all. I have to escape somehow… but if she screams at me just as I’m running away…)
“─Kina~!! What are you doing here~!?”
A girl, a little taller than the elementary school student who confronts them, comes running. Seeing this, Yuuji’s alertness reaches its peak.
Oh no, I didn’t expect her to call her friends…hmm? No, wait… that person…
“Um, I’m sorry about my little sister… what is that? Kouhai-kun? To meet you in a place like this…! I’m surprised~!”
The student council president, Takamiya, appeared.
She is wearing a long pink skirt and a white cardigan, perhaps because she does not like to expose her skin. The outfit is somewhat inappropriate for the warm season and gives a glimpse of her reserved personality.
Yuuji also patted his chest in relief when he saw her. He is relieved that it is not enemy reinforcements.
“Kouhai-kun, what are you doing now?”
”…I just bought a manga and reading them?”
Upon hearing about the manga, Takamiya rushed to Yuuji’s side with a smile and a twinkle in her eye.
Seeing her approach made his heart fuss a little, but it was okay because he kept a minimum distance from her.
And with Takamiya as my partner, I don’t feel that much discomfort.
(It was the same before I left home… I didn’t like my sister’s friends, but I could talk to her normally.)
Yuuji did not really understand the reason for this. He did not know what made his sister and the student council president different from the other women.
“Hey, what kind of manga, what kind of manga!?”
“…fist with me”
“… Ah, yeah”
“Um, can you please stop blatantly losing interest when you hear the title?”
“It’s not like that… But I’m glad to hear about your hobbies, kouhai-kun~? Fufu.”
Why are you so happy to hear about my hobbies? Nothing makes me happy to hear about my hobbies… Maybe she’s someone I shouldn’t trust after all…
No, it’s okay… she’s absolutely okay… no, don’t forget, she’s a woman, she might just be hiding her true identity well… no, but…
“Kouhai-kun? What’s wrong?”
Worried about Yuuji’s sudden silence, Takamiya calls out to him in concern. She is a senior student who is only about the height of Yuuji’s chest.
She is the unreliable student council president who is always scared of Yuka, calls Yuuji whenever something happens, and complains about her to her younger brother.
Even so, Yuuji trusts her.
So even though he can no longer trust women, Takamiya might be okay… or so he thought…
So even if he loses trust in women, he might be okay with Takamiya…that’s what he thought…
But it was impossible. Yuuji has been doubting even the people he trusts. A casual conversation in his daily life had triggered a strange intuition… It was a normal thing to be pleased to hear about his hobbies… but…
But Yuuji was unbearably afraid of it.
“I’m sorry, Kaicho-oneechan is calling me, so I’m going okay?”
“Eh… ah, yeah… goodbye…”
Yuuji left the place as if to run away.
[Takamiya’s Point of View]
“Onii-chan, was speaking strangely didn’t he?”
Is it because of his health condition…?
Or is it still because of her?
Takamiya remembered the story he heard from Yashiro the day before yesterday. Yuuji’s girlfriend was cheating on him. If it is true, it is an unforgivable act to torment a junior whom she adores.
Maybe that’s what he realized…? That’s why he was like that… but he seemed normal at first?
The funny thing started when we were talking… well, I think it was around the time I was happy to hear about his hobbies…?
But it wasn’t a strange conversation, so I don’t think that was the cause…hmmm…
Yesterday, Yuka skipped work and left early, so I couldn’t talk to her about Yuji. That’s why it’s getting late to talk to her… and that’s what’s bothering her.
“…Speaking of which, Kina, why did you talk to him?”
“Yeah? Because he’s the one you’re always smiling at in your pictures…”
“Onee-chan, you’re too loud!”
“Ugh…that’s… embarrassing… terrible…”
“Pfft! It’s fun to tease you, Onee-chan~!
“Don’t bully me~!!”