“Towa-kun, you seem to have calmed down.”
Lying on the bed, Towa-kun no longer displayed the distressed expression he had moments ago. I felt relieved by this change. Checking the time, it had been about twenty minutes since our last communication with Aisaka-kun, and I had to admit that I couldn’t return to the classroom as I had promised.
“Thanks to our teacher’s understanding. Ordinarily, I would have been instructed to return to class.”
Towa-kun fell asleep almost immediately upon lying down. As I observed him in peaceful slumber, I thought about going back to the classroom. However, Towa-kun held my hand and didn’t let go. I was unsure about what to do until our school nurse kindly suggested an idea.
“Well, usually, I wouldn’t make such a suggestion, but why not skip one class… I mean, watch over Yukishiro-kun and see how he’s doing? What subject is it, anyway?”
“Alright, I will convey the message.”
In this exchange, I ended up deciding to stay and watch over Towa-kun as he slept.
But it seemed that there wasn’t much to be concerned about. His complexion had improved significantly, and he looked like he was having a peaceful sleep. I couldn’t help but smile as I stared at his serene, youthful sleeping face. He might always be so cool, but this childlike slumbering face was adorable and amazing.
During this time when the others were in class, I felt a bit exhilarated to be together with my beloved person while away from class. I have to admit, I can be a bit naughty sometimes.
I continued to gaze at Towa-kun’s face for a while. I simply held his hand while watching him. Although it made me feel happy, there were still some lingering words that troubled my mind.
“Is Ayana… happy now?”
Towa-kun had asked me that question earlier. I should be happy; there was no doubt about it. Being able to stay by his side and actually experience it in reality, there was no way I could be unhappy. So, why did he ask me such a question?
The grip of my fingers on his hand grew tighter, but I quickly realized it and relaxed. I breathed out, letting my thoughts flow.
“Yes… I’m happy. There’s no other way. That’s why I want you to be even happier. I don’t want anyone to hurt you ever again…”
For that reason, I…
At that moment, I stopped in my tracks. My mind was overwhelmed, and I had to think about something else. The nurse had left for a while, and there were no other students with health issues. Currently, it was just the two of us.
“I can’t do this, can I? Thinking about negative things brings my spirits down. Let’s just focus on enjoying the view of Towa-kun’s cute sleeping face!”
Watching my beloved person made me feel better. Perhaps that’s why the overwhelming sleepiness that had been building up suddenly struck me. I suppressed a yawn and decided to endure it.
“But it’s not like I’ll be going back to class at this hour….. Is that alright?”
I usually don’t have this problem, but even with patience, my head shook with depression and …… I found myself closing my eyes as I leaned my weight against the back of the comfortable chair.
I was sleeping next to Towa-kun, but somehow, I had ended up in a strange place. The surroundings were dark, and my vision was unclear. I realized that this was a dream, and it didn’t cause me to panic.
“A dream… a dark space… fufu, it’s as if it’s reflecting my heart.”
As I said this, I suddenly felt startled. Why had I expressed my own heart as such a dim and gloomy place? If I were to represent my own heart, it should be brighter, as that’s the color of happiness I’ve tried to convey to Towa-kun.
“…This is uncomfortable. What is this dream?”
Most likely, I must be displaying a face in this dream that I wouldn’t show to anyone, not even Towa-kun.
I was about to click my tongue, and I did. With that sound echoing, or as if it served as a signal, the dark space changed. Something gripped my leg, making me exclaim.
It was a girl – a face I recognized – grasping my leg as though emerging from a swamp.
Yes, it was Iori Honjo.
She looked quite different from how I usually knew her. Her clothes were dirty, her hair was dry and disheveled, and, most notably, she emitted a strange odor. It was difficult to believe this was the same person.
“What are you doing here…? Eh? You look a bit more… mature?”
I noticed that she seemed more mature than the Honjo-senpai I knew.
Could it be that she was deliberately showing me an older version of herself in this strange and unpleasant dream? As I pondered this, she glared at me and spoke.
“You will never be able to be happy… never.”
I could be told I wouldn’t be happy, but that was fine. My happiness was secondary; all I wanted was for Towa-kun to be happy. No matter what anyone said, it wouldn’t affect me. That’s what I thought, and just because this was a dream, I considered crushing her head under my foot.
[Maybe it was …… myself who took her away from me.]
After the figure of Honjo-senpai, who had been grabbing my leg, disappeared, I heard his voice from behind. In the dark void, his voice sounded like a healing balm to my heart, a beacon of hope that illuminated my path. I turned around swiftly and found him there, just as I had expected.
I rushed towards him and reached out to touch him, but for some unknown reason, I retracted my outstretched hand just as it was about to make contact. I didn’t understand why, but for a fleeting moment, I thought that the person in front of me wasn’t Towa-kun.
“No, he is Towa-kun, but it seems like he’s not the one I want to be close to. What’s this discomfort?”
The Towa-kun I had been facing away from was indeed him, but he wore a pained expression as though his heart was on the verge of being crushed.
Why? Why is he wearing such a look? Why does he look like he’s about to cry?
I knew… this was a dream, and I knew that the Towa-kun in front of me was different.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but reach out my hand because the thing I least wanted to see in this world was Towa-kun’s sorrowful expression. I never wanted to see that face, the one crying on the bed, again.
Desperately reaching out, my hand cut through empty air, and Towa-kun’s figure vanished. However, his voice still reached my ears.
My chest tightened, and I put my hand over it. This is so unpleasant… I don’t want to see or hear any of this. Yet, Towa-kun’s voice keeps reaching me.
[I took away the kind Ayana for real… I should have realized it sooner… I should have talked to Ayana more… Damn it… Damn it!!]
I begged him to stop mentioning my name in such a sorrowful way. It’s like I’m hurting Towa-kun by doing what I’m about to do. As I contemplated this, I suddenly realized something.
“If I continue like this… will Towa-kun not be able to find happiness…? Am I making Towa-kun like this? Am I causing Towa-kun pain…?”
Towa-kun is so kind, and that’s why I can’t reveal what I’m about to do. I wanted to end this without him finding out, so he wouldn’t be hurt, and it would get rid of an annoying presence for me. However, it’s impossible to cover up all the changes happening around us. All I have to do is stay close to Towa-kun, provide him with happy dreams, and make him forget. That’s what I thought. Why is this dream showing me these scenes?
“I….I… even so…”
While clutching my head with both hands, I tried to say something. Suddenly, I realized…
Am I doing all this for Towa-kun’s happiness, or am I using him as an excuse to vent my hatred towards those who hurt me?
In the end, as I pondered this, I woke up.
“Ara, are you awake?”
I woke up, and Sensei spoke to me. Perhaps due to just waking up, my head felt a bit foggy, but seeing Sensei looking at me and Towa still asleep in bed, I fully woke up.
“Otonashi-san? You are looking a little pale. Are you okay?”
“Um… I’m totally fine. It’s just that I had a rather unpleasant dream.”
“Is that so? Well, if you say so, Otonashi-san, then it’s probably okay.”
Saying that, the teacher leaned in to check on Towa-kun’s face.
“Yukishiro-kun, your complexion has improved quite a bit too. Maybe it was just sleep deprivation? Did you stay up late, or did you do some exercise before going to bed?”
When the teacher mentioned exercising before bed, I suddenly realized something.
Thankfully, the teacher was focused on Towa-kun, and my comment didn’t catch their attention.
I checked the clock and saw that I had slept for about fifty minutes.
“The class… should be ending soon, right?”
“Yes, it should. The bell will ring shortly, so you should go back now.”
“Understood. Please take care of Towa-kun for me.”
“I’ll take care of it.”
Towa-kun, please get well soon. Show me your usual lively self and put my mind at ease.
“Well then, excuse me.”
I wished I could have stayed a bit longer, but there was no helping it.
After leaving the infirmary, I headed straight back to the classroom. During that time, my mind was filled with thoughts of Towa-kun and one more thing—the content of that dream.
“Why do I remember it in such detail?”
I remembered every detail of the dream.
It would have been better if I could have just forgotten it all… the dream wasn’t pleasant enough to warrant such clear recollection.
As I walked down the hallway, the bell rang, signaling the end of class.
When I entered the classroom, his friends asked about Towa-kun’s condition, so I told them that he was sound asleep.
“Is that so? That’s a relief.”
“If anything happens to Yukishiro-kun, Ayana will cry!”
“Fufu, I’m sorry to have caused you all worry.”
After his friends, Aisaka-kun also came over to ask about Towa-kun.
“I heard what you said earlier. I’m glad nothing happened to Yukishiro-kun.”
“Yes, you don’t need to worry at all, Aisaka-kun.”
Come to think of it… I wasn’t conscious of it, but I might have spoken a bit harshly to Aisaka-kun.
I wonder if I looked really scared…?
Well, it just means I was really concerned.
After Aisaka-kun returned to his seat, both he and Shu-kun came over.
“Is Towa okay?”
“Yes, there’s nothing to worry about.”
I reassured them, and Shu-kun visibly relaxed.
However, Towa-kun, who was being worried about by so many people like this, made me strangely happy as if his personality endeared him to many.
“What is it?”
Smiling faintly at that thought, I noticed that Shu-kun was scratching his cheek and looking a bit embarrassed. Then, for a while, he remained silent and eventually shook his head, saying it was nothing.
“Sorry about that. Oh, but last night, thanks for answering the phone. It made me happy.”
“Oh, that’s what you’re talking about. It’s not a big deal.”
“It feels nice to hear your voice at night. Maybe it’s because it’s always Ayana’s voice I’ve been hearing?”
“Well, who knows?”
To be honest, my responses to such trivial conversation were a bit absentminded because I had been thinking about that dream not only now but also during my conversation with Shu-kun, Aisaka-kun, and my friends.
Shu-kun seemed dissatisfied with my response and voiced his thoughts.
“Ayana, you know… you worry too much about Towa. You don’t have to go that far, you know?”
“What are you trying to say?”
My voice was surprisingly low even to myself.
Shu-kun shook his shoulders as if he was shivering, and then he said it was nothing and left as if he were escaping.
I couldn’t care less about what Shu-kun thought or the fact that he ran away.
After that, even as the class started, I couldn’t concentrate on the lesson. All I could hear echoing in my mind was that voice.
[That girl… Ayana acted out of concern for me. Suppressing her own feelings… to keep me from seeing her hurt.]
Towa-kun’s voice, saying that over and over again, continued to reverberate in my mind.
I shouldn’t have to worry… I shouldn’t care about some unclear dream. I should just let it go. But even so, the voice of the person I love kept echoing endlessly.
(What I was trying to do… is it wrong? Is it wrong to make those guys who said terrible things to Towa-kun suffer, even if it involves unrelated people…? Because if they’re around, Towa-kun will continue to suffer in the future…!)
Since that day, since the day Towa-kun cried in the hospital room, I had made up my mind. To rid Towa-kun of the people who hurt him… even if it involved innocent people. But if my actions ended up hurting Towa-kun, what was the point of all the preparations I had made?
Please help me, Towa-kun… I found myself muttering unconsciously in my heart. I desperately wanted to be comforted by Towa-kun.