“Osuu~! I knew I saw Yukishiro-kun and Otonashi-san.”
Waving from a little distance away was Aisaka-kun. He was in his uniform, so he must have just finished a club activity. He approached us with a smirk.
“What’s going on? It’s not that unusual to see Yukishiro-san and Otonashi-san together, but were you on a date by any chance?”
Aisaka-kun playfully nudged my shoulder, which irritated me slightly, but he quickly realized that he might be intruding if it were a date and hastily apologized.
“If you’re going to apologize, don’t bother interrupting in the first place.”
“Sorry, really… You know, I’ve been so caught up with practice lately. I haven’t had much time to hang out with friends, and then I saw you two. I just felt like saying hi.”
“Is that all it is?”
“Just that… Yeah.”
In response to my question, Aisaka scratched his head.
Ayana is a classmate of Aisaka’s, but they don’t talk much, so the jovial sports boy is a bit intimidated in front of me.
Nevertheless, considering the subtle tension between Ayana and me, Aisaka’s arrival provided a breath of fresh air.
“Aisaka, isn’t it a bit unusual for you to be on your way home from club activities? Isn’t your house in the opposite direction from here?”
“My mom asked me to pick up some groceries. If I complain about being tired from baseball, she’ll kill me.”
“What kind of mom is she?”
“She’s like a demon – well, not quite.”
Referring to your own mother as ‘a demon’?
Well, I’ve never been to Aisaka’s house, and I don’t know what his family is like.
“She might be a demon, but she’s still my mom.”
I guess a mother’s request is hard to refuse.
Although Aisaka and I get along well, I’ve never been to his house, and I don’t know anything about his family.
But I see, it’s a request from his mom… I get along pretty well with Aisaka, but I’ve never been to his house, and I don’t even know what his family is like.
“Whether it’s because of Aisaka or not, it’s hard to refuse a mother’s request, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right. She’s been making me bentos and taking care of me all the time, so I’ve probably been a bit of a bother too.”
It seems like both of us have trouble saying no to our mothers.
We’ve never really had the opportunity to talk about our families like this before, even though we’re students.
“Fufu, Aisaka-kun, you really love your mom, don’t you?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say ‘love’ because it sounds embarrassing, but I definitely don’t dislike her, I think that’s pretty normal.”
“That’s true. Towa-kun also loves Akemi-san… I mean his mom.”
“You look like you love your family too, Yukishiro.”
“What kind of face is that?”
I lightly poke Aisaka’s shoulder.
I’m really glad Aisaka came along… Maybe if he hadn’t, things could have been awkward between me and Ayana.
“Are you two leaving already?”
“Yes, we were just about to head home.”
Ayana smiled her usual smile and walked up to my side. In that moment, Aisaka voiced a question that seemed to have been on his mind.
“In class, you’re always taking care of Sasaki, right, Otonashi-san? But it seems like you and Yukishiro-kun go better together…”
“Ara, thank you, Aisaka-kun.”
Ayana smiled sweetly, and I could see Aisaka getting a bit flustered. While I understood that being smiled at by such a beautiful girl as Ayana could have that effect, I distinctly remembered that Aisaka had someone he was interested in, particularly a younger girl.
“By the way, Aisaka, about the shopping…”
Just as I was about to ask if everything was alright, a powerful voice echoed that caught Aisaka’s and my attention.
We quickly turned our heads in that direction, surprised and even a bit alarmed.
“Come on, let go of me!”
A university-aged guy was making advances towards a young woman. The woman clearly showed her discomfort, but she didn’t back down and instead confronted him with a strong gaze and voice, trying to intimidate him. In contrast, the guy didn’t seem to be fazed at all and just grinned.
He hadn’t approached her in a friendly manner; it was clear that he was interested in the woman’s body, and his expression was lecherous.
“Nampa, huh… ” [TL: Nampa = Hitting on women, seducer, etc]
Nampa attempts weren’t particularly unusual in the city. However, the woman in question was not someone we could simply ignore. She was someone I recognized and stirred up memories of my past as Towa.
“Is that Seina-san?”
It was Seina Otonashi, Ayana’s mother. She was around the same age as my mother, probably in her forties. Despite that, she looked remarkably youthful, almost like a college student. She shared a similar beautiful appearance and aura with Ayana, which made it even more surprising that someone would attempt to hit on her like this.
“Seems like that guy is making Otonashi-san uncomfortable… Well, it doesn’t matter. I’ll be right back.”
Putting the luggage in its place, Aisaka heads to Seina and the man.
Most people might choose to ignore such a situation, but Aisaka’s nonchalant response seemed to reflect his sense of justice. Seeing him like that also inspired me.
“I’m going with him. Ayana, I know youre mother doesn’t think well of me, but she’s still your mother, and that’s reason enough to help… Ayana, you wait here.”
Even if she doesn’t have a high opinion of me, that’s not a reason not to help. She’s Ayana’s mom, and I felt like I would regret it if I didn’t do anything.
But… what’s this?
As I tried to head over to Seina-san, my legs felt heavy, as if I were stuck in quicksand up to my knees.
(Just like back then…)
I remembered the feeling from when I watched Shu and Iori carrying bags. In the end, I did nothing and went home with Ayana.
I forced my feet to move.
As if something had clicked in my mind, I found myself standing next to Aisaka.
I couldn’t ignore this feeling, but the urgency to help Seina-san overrode it. That’s what filled my heart.
“Huh? Yukishiro-kun, are you coming too?”
“Yeah, well, it’s because she’s Ayana’s mom.”
Aisaka blinked in surprise at my explanation. It was understandable; it’s not often you see someone so young-looking having a high school daughter.
We headed over to the two people who were arguing. The first one to notice us was Seina-san, and she seemed surprised when she saw me, not Aisaka.
“That’s enough. Can’t you see she’s not interested?”
“Do you really have the nerve to do this in such a public place?”
“…Who the hell are you?”
The guy stared at us menacingly, but when he realized there were two of us, he seemed a bit taken aback. He released Seina-san’s hand for a moment. I didn’t let that chance slip by and quickly pulled Seina-san away from him.
“Please don’t say anything now and let me help you.”
But deep down, I was anxious. Considering the words I’d heard from Kotone and Hatsune-san, I didn’t expect to hear anything more shocking. However, I still didn’t want to hear anything harsh from the mother of the girl I like, so I preferred if she didn’t say anything.
“You brats, it’s none of your business.”
“I won’t go into details, but we’re involved.”
“Just give it up. It’s not cool.”
The man’s anger flared up even more at Aisaka’s words, and he picked up a traffic cone nearby.
Seeing this, Seina let out a small scream, and I quickly placed my hand on Aisaka’s shoulder, pulling him forcefully to our side.
“You’re playing baseball, right? It’d be trouble if you injured yourself.”
But here was where my shortcomings became apparent. While my intention was to protect them, I hadn’t thought of a clear course of action. By pulling Aisaka strongly, I put some distance between him and Seina-san, which was reassuring. However, Seina-san, who was standing right behind me, was still in danger.
As the commotion continued to attract more attention, people started to make a fuss. For now, I needed to endure a blow to the head or back… or did I?
“Don’t get cocky, you bastards!”
As I shifted my gaze away from the man swinging the traffic cone, I saw Seina-san, her eyes wide open, staring at me in shock. Aisaka was about to rush towards me. Seina-san’s expression was particularly striking, though.
Well, the memories of direct conversations with her are from Towa’s past memories, and they aren’t featured much in the game, so I can’t say if “fresh” is the right word, but it felt that way.
I closed my eyes and braced for impact. I just hoped it wouldn’t hurt too much. However, I didn’t feel any pain.
“DON’T YOU DARE TO DO SOMETHING TERRIBLE TO TOWA-KUUUUUUUUUUN!”
That was indeed Ayana’s enraged shout.
I turned around at the sound of something dull hitting the ground, and I saw the traffic cone falling to the ground. The man was crouching, clutching his groin, and Ayana stood with her back to us, between the man and me.
With her back turned and standing right in front of us, Ayana had a stance that resembled a battle-hardened warrior. Aisaka and I exchanged glances.
We… were we the side characters? I was genuinely overwhelmed by Ayana’s presence, as were not only Aisaka and me but also, as I briefly glanced behind, Seina, who was wide-eyed, seemed to find Ayana’s current appearance quite unusual or something she hadn’t seen much before.
For now, there was no need for either of us to ask about what had just happened with Ayana.
What mattered more was that while the scene had calmed down, both Seina and the Ayana were present. This became evident as Seina’s voice broke the silence.
“Ayana… What just happened? Or rather, why are you with this child?”
The words “why are you with this child” obviously referred to me. In the end, it was Ayana who had repelled the man, but I couldn’t help but find it amusing that she hadn’t said a word of thanks to me, who had protected her at my own expense.
“Mom, wouldn’t it be better to thank Towa-kun first? He went so far as to protect Mom.”
“Why would I… What kind of joke are you making?”
Ayana snorted as she looked at me. To be honest, I had no idea why she disliked me, or rather, Towa, so much. Even if I were to ask her, she probably wouldn’t tell me, no matter what reasons there might be. I wished I could say something that would strongly affect her, but as I was thinking about it, Ayana began speaking. She unleashed a barrage of words that hit harder than a right straight, a high-powered attack.
“It was the same back then, wasn’t it? Even though I was the one in the wrong, Towa-kun comforted me, and you treated him coldly. Even when Towa-kun got injured!!”
Ayana took a deep breath and continued in a calm voice, as though she hadn’t been raising her voice just moments ago.
“Not only can’t you say thank you, but you even said such horrible things to Towa-kun. I don’t just dislike you; I don’t even want to think that we share the same blood.”
Ayana’s words left Seina-san dumbfounded, as if she couldn’t believe it. She stared at Ayana as if she had forgotten that Aisaka and I were even there.
(Isn’t this a bit too much of a fireball straight?)
As far as I was concerned, all I had were unpleasant memories of Seina-san. However, that didn’t mean I thought, “Serves you right” when I heard Ayana say that. That would be a petty way of thinking.
Now, what should I do in this situation? As I pondered this, I noticed that Ayana had a scratch on her hand—probably from her exchange with the man earlier, where his nails had likely grazed her.
“Seina-sa… cough, I’m sorry, can you please give me a hand?”
I was about to call her name, Seina-san, but I stopped myself just in time.
When I approach her in her stunned state, she seems to be properly conscious as only her gaze follows my face …… well, of course she is.
“There’s a scratch. I don’t have any antiseptic cream with me, so please wash it and take care of it when we get back home.”
I wrapped a handkerchief around the scratch, and while I expected her to resist or brush my hand away, she simply watched me go about it.
“All right, that should do it.”
After finishing the simple first aid, I released Seina-san’s hand. I didn’t know what to say to her. There was a flood of emotions and questions, but I had no idea how to approach this situation.
“Shall we go, Towa-kun? You too, Aisaka-kun.”
Ayana held my hand tightly as we started walking.
Aisaka seemed to have forgotten that Ayana had once been the one to hit him with that heavy blow. He probably still didn’t know the full story, and I wasn’t about to tell him.
“Um… haha, it feels like a lot happened.”
Once Seina’s figure disappeared from our view, Aisaka chuckled with a perplexed smile. He had no idea about the circumstances, and he was understandably bewildered. Nonetheless, I appreciated that he was making light of the situation and trying to ease the tension.
“I’m sorry, Aisaka-kun. Well, you know, a lot happened.”
“Yeah, even without knowing the details, it was pretty obvious just by seeing that. Well, both Otonashi-san and you are unharmed, so that’s a relief.”
We agreed on that point.
“What’s the matter?”
With Aisaka and me staring at her, Ayana looked uncomfortable and shrank into herself. It was a far cry from the confident and powerful presence she had displayed earlier.
I had a sense that this was a side of her I hadn’t seen before. Although my past memories of her and the games didn’t portray her in such a way, she was definitely acting differently today.
“Well, Ayana… When she gets angry, she becomes like that, huh? That… um, I don’t know, it felt kind of different from her usual self.”
“Exactly… I don’t think she’s a bad person, but that’s just how she acts. Her mother didn’t even thank you for what you did. And, she said such harsh words for no reason…”
“Um, I see.”
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. In a way, I understood her better now, but it didn’t make the situation any less awkward.
“Shall we go, Towa-kun? Aisaka-kun too.”
Ayana gripped my hand tightly, and we resumed walking.
With Ayana leading the way and holding my hand, I couldn’t help but look back at the situation. However, Aisaka’s didn’t seem to have any intention of following us or saying anything to us.
“Uh, well… ha ha, I’m not sure how to feel about all this.”
We walked a bit further, and Aisaka smiled, trying to ease the atmosphere.
He must be quite confused, not knowing any of the circumstances, but even so, I was grateful that he could smile like this, as it helped ease the tension in the air.
“Sorry, Aisaka. Well, you know, a lot of things happened.”
“Well, if you saw that, even if you were incredibly dense, you’d understand. Well, that goes for that person too, but I’m glad that neither of us got seriously injured.”
I agreed with him on that point.
Well, that being said… when it comes to who was responsible for us not getting seriously injured, it was undoubtedly her, moving like an Amazoness.
“W-What’s the matter…?”
Ayana looked uncomfortable and made her body smaller as Aisaka and I stared at her.
Considering her loud voice from a moment ago and how she effortlessly took down that man with a single blow… I realized that Ayana was much stronger than I had thought. Her sudden use of rough language was also unexpected, as it didn’t seem to fit her character.
“Well… I had no idea Ayana could get like that when she’s angry. Uh… I mean, I didn’t see anything dangerous, did I? Will I get killed for that?”
“Who would kill you! Please don’t treat people like dangerous freaks!”
Ayana bit back at Aisaka’s joking remark, her face turning bright red.
Aisaka laughed, looking troubled as he glanced at Ayana, who seemed unamused. Then, he turned to me and continued.
“I want to make it clear that I’m not involved in this. I’m curious, but I won’t ask anything. Still, I don’t think Yukishiro-kun is the kind of person who would be disliked for no reason. So, I’m hoping for some improvement in your relationship.”
“Yeah… thanks, Aisaka.”
“Hehe, well, then… shopping! I almost forgot!!”
Aisaka hastily waved his hand and ran off.
Given the situation, it felt like the storm had passed, but being told such things made my face turn slightly red.
Ayana held onto my arm and stared at me intently.
There had been that exchange earlier… I thought that if I sent her home today, things might become awkward between Seina-san and her. So, I proposed that she stay over at my house.
“I’d like to visit… I’ll leave early tomorrow morning.”
In that case, it seemed like I would be taking her home tomorrow and then going to school. My mother was likely already home, so I should call her before taking Ayana with me and let her know that Ayana would be staying over.
[Mom? I’m sorry for this sudden request, but Ayana will be staying over today—]
[That’s fine. I’ll make a bit more food then.]
My mom agreed without asking for any reasons, which was wonderful.
Ayana, who was close by, seemed to have heard my mom’s voice that leaked out, and she quietly held my hand while chuckling.
“Thank you, Towa-kun. I should also thank Akemi-san.”
“You really don’t need to thank her. But it’s more about my mom… She gets all excited when someone stays over, and it can get annoying, you know?”
“It’s okay. I’m used to dealing with a tipsy Akemi-san when she’s had a bit of alcohol♪”
That was… really reassuring, and I smiled wryly.
I was soothed by Ayana’s excitement at being able to meet her mother and Ayana being by my side. I took her with me and returned home to where my mother was waiting.