“Hey, Maika?! What did he do to you!?”
I rolled my eyes in surprise at Itakura, who said that out loud as soon as she entered the store.
Fukumura seemed to be surprised, and she seemed to have a question mark on her head as well.
“—-Hey, don’t know who you are, but the store is already closed.”
Sakakibara interrupted her.
Yes, the store was already closed. The sign hanging on the door had already changed from OPEN to CLOSE.
Nevertheless, she came in. It was an ordinary act of nuisance.
Even so, she never lost her attitude that she was not at fault.
“My friend is being deceived, and I’m not going to keep quiet about it? It’s none of your business!”
”It doesn’t matter… I’m worried about Senpai too…”
“Same here, I’m worried about the same thing. Do you understand? Will you shut up for a minute?”
Sakakibara was overwhelmed by her attitude without saying whether she wanted to or not.
It would be a pity for her to go any further. I was very happy that she had the courage to do it.
My impression was that she was not that dynamic.
She is cheerful only to her acquaintances. She is not the type to show affection even to customers.
Especially, she often panics at sudden events.
I’m talking about what I know about her, but she tried to help me anyway.
That was enough for me.
“ Sakakibara, it’s okay.”
” But…Senpai. This person is you-know-who, right?”
Sakakibara did not see her directly, but she must have heard some of the story from the manager. She guessed what kind of a partner she was dealing with.
“But it’s all right. Thank you, Sakakibara.”
”Ahhh…. I understand… Senpai.”
Sakakibara complied with my words, although she seemed a little reluctant to do so.
Sakakibara was still worried about me. Her gaze remained fixed on me for a long time.
Since I couldn’t keep the conversation going indefinitely, I asked Itakura for the time being.
”Itakura-san. Do you mind if we postpone the meeting for another day?”
This was probably an unavoidable conflict. So I thought, at the very least….
“Don’t be stupid. Imagine if it’s too late.”
That. She would not listen to me. It would be useless no matter what I said.
“I can’t let you hurt Maika any more than you already have. Besides… Emi too.”
”Mizuki… It’s not that I think Kitami is wrong.”
Fukumura replied to her words.
Her voice was clearly trembling.
“And you had a fight with Emi?”
“! That has nothing to do with it!”
”With Sonoda… A fight?”
You mean like a fight, not like she harassed you?
”Don’t you know? Emi and Maika are fighting because of you.”
”Fighting…..Because of me”
I don’t fully grasp the situation, but from the look of Fukumura, it seems that the fight itself is true.
“Y-you got it wrong! It wasn’t Kitami’s fault!”
Fukumura raises her voice to deny Itakura’s words.
The way Fukumura looks scared of something, which she also showed when she apologized to me earlier.
（—-She’s scared, I’m sure.)
”Why are you defending him! He’s a bullying scumbag, and it’s his fault you’re fighting with Emi!”
”No, it’s not! That was… It’s because I broke the rules… It’s because of the trouble I caused…”
Her words stopped there.
She must have been afraid to tell me this.
I was indeed surprised. I had no idea that the situation had escalated into a fight.
And that it involved me.
I would have said, “That’s annoying.”
”Don’t be selfish.” “Why are you trying to get involved?”
”Don’t force your complacency on me.” etc.
”Why does Maika care about that guy?! Why are you taking the side of that guy!?”
Accepting and pushing them away are all painful and hard things to do.
Then I’m fine with being alone. I really thought so, and I’ve made a conscious effort to be so.
I chose to be alone because I didn’t want to be lonely.
I wanted to be alone, and I didn’t want to be denied that.
I wanted people to stop judging my happiness.
I wanted people to think that I had chosen this path by abandoning something.
And most of all, I wanted to deny my past.
I wanted to make sure that I would never make the mistake again.
“—-The truth is, I am happy.”
The two of them seemed to be unable to grasp the true meaning of my words.
I continued, regardless.
I felt as if someone had affirmed what I had been denied.
That way of being was ideal.
I could reach out to them without any deep reason.
When I had denied it in the past, a hand was offered to me.
That’s how I felt.
I don’t think I’m wrong now. Even now, I am afraid to step in or to be stepped in.
Still, the reason I am able to face Sachi and my mother like this now is undoubtedly because of her.
I wonder why I was able to accept Sachi’s proposal to live together at that time.
Why didn’t I forcibly distance myself from Fukumura, who had been following me day after day?
“I can’t say for sure, but I think it was probably hard for him.”
The words she once said resonated with me more than I realized.
Those words had probably saved me unknowingly.
”Even though I’m in this situation right now, I honestly don’t care about school or anything else.”
I’m not lying. I sincerely don’t care.
Because I have a way out. Because I can leave everything behind and escape.
B”ut I can’t ignore the situation Fukumura is in right now. Definitely.”
Fukumura seemed surprised that her name came up at such an unexpected time.
“Yeah, I just want to resolve Fukumura’s situation.”
”… Why? I deserved it and it’s my fault…?”
She didn’t seem to understand why I was reaching out to her.
I guess I didn’t say enough. I didn’t mean it as it was.
But I dared to choose that word.
”Fukumura seemed to be in pain.”
She’ll get the message. She will. I thought it was too much to ask.
But there’s something in here that can’t be conveyed by that.
“Hey, just shut up and listen? I don’t get it! I don’t care what you say, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a total *sshole!?”
I knew Itakura would say that.
“T-That’s not true…”
Fukumura tried to argue with her, but she didn’t know.
What happened that day? What I was thinking.
But she still stepped in. Helping me out.
So this time…
“—I’ll tell you now.”
Their voices overlapped.
I took a deep breath and prepared myself.
”I’ll tell you what happened that day.”
It was time for me to step in.
”—-Just give me a minute.”
I said and excused myself. Neither of them said anything.
I went to the manager, who was watching over us from a little distance away.
”Manager, I’m afraid it’s going to take a little longer…”
“Don’t worry about it. If it gets late, I’ll give you a ride.”
I decided to take advantage of the manager’s kindness.
I walked past the manager and entered the break room.
I call on my cell phone, which I had left there.
”Onii-chan?! Why didn’t you answer the phone?!”
Sachi’s loud voice startled me a little.
While making the call, I checked my incoming calls and sure enough, there were a number of them.
She must have been worried because I came home late without calling her.
“Mou, I was worried about you. Did something happen?”
”Well, something did happen, but I don’t know how to explain it.”
The results will come out in the near future.
“Well, whatever it is, assuming you’re all right, no?”
”Thanks. So, can I ask you something?”
There’s something I really need to tell Sachi.
“I’m with someone right now, and we’re going to talk about that day“
“..Yes. That day?”
Sachi surely knows exactly when that day was and what it means. Still, Sachi let me tell you.
“I should have told you first, Sachi.”
”If Sachi doesn’t like it, I’ll stop. I’ll go home and talk to Sachi first. What do you think I should do?”
At this point, it’s the same thing again. After all, I am relying on Sachi.
This is another sly question.
”You’re so mean, Onii-chan”
“I’m sorry, Sachi.”
I could tell by her voice alone that Sachi was smiling a little.
”I told you, didn’t I? I’m waiting for you. So do what you want, Onii-chan?”
“…Thank you, Sachi.”
Thus I was pushed back again.
I can’t run away anymore.
It’s okay. I don’t have to worry.
I have such a dependable family.
I am going to be all right.
I calmed down and returned to them.