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.
“Toshiki—! This doesn’t scare me at all, it’s so much fun!”
“Ahaha, Reika-chan you look like a kid! Well, I’m having fun too!”
After they pressured me back at the bench, Reika asked to go on the merry-go-round. I was tired from all that transpired a few minutes ago, so I decided not to and just take pictures of them from the outside.
Reika straddles one of the horses a bit timidly, yet her eyes glimmered like those of a child. While she was having fun, I thought back to what happened on the bench. They’d noticed I was completely stunned and didn’t know what to do, so they stopped intimidating me and went back to their friendly atmosphere. I ended up not answering that ticking time bomb of a question.
Although thinking, I still took photos and waved at them occasionally. Both their horses were next to each other, and there were also many children enjoying the ride along with them.
I’m enjoying this peace… Not long ago, I broke off any and all contact with Eri. In hindsight, I realize my actions were shallow and I should’ve seen the bigger picture. When watching both of them having fun, I couldn’t help but be glad I’m their friend.
Eri then smiled at me and waved, a big grin sprawled across her face. I see… I’ve always liked her as a friend, haven’t I? These thoughts ran through my mind as Mr. Tachibana’s words suddenly resurfaced.
—Eri Mashima exists only to torment me.
I lightly shake my head trying not to remember them. I’m sure Eri will be fine no matter what happens now. She’s changing… And besides, Reika is standing right beside me.
That’s why I wished for these peaceful days to continue forever.
After that, we met up with Hayakawa and the others, and we all had lunch together. Bellies full, we went around the park for a second time.
Time flies when you’re having fun, so in the evening we went to our reserved room at the park’s hotel. We booked two, one for men and one for women. My heart danced in excitement from this unusual routine.
“Yo, Toshiki, we’re gonna grab some dinner and go to the hot springs afterward, ‘kay? Let’s just chill a little! … But, just between us, which one of the two do you like, man?”
As soon as we walked into our room, Hayakawa and I plopped down our luggage and had a cup of tea. After hearing his words I almost spit it all out.
“W–What are you talking about? I–I don’t…”
“Mashima-san has softened up quite a bit now, and you used to love her, didn’t you? Ha ha, nobody’s around now, so we can talk about love without reserve! I mean, we never had something like this before.”
“T–That’s right… I’d never think you and I would ever talk about love together though.”
“Hey! Well, I’ve got a lot more time on my hands now that I don’t have to worry about money anymore. I worked so much a while back I didn’t even have time to breathe.”
Hayakawa is currently using all his earnings toward his family and the hospital bulls. Even so, he still gets a bit more money to spend on himself than your usual high schooler. Actually, he gets a lot more than your average student, but his acute financial sense hadn’t changed.
After saying that, he collapsed on the sofa while munching on a tea cake.
“Haah~ I don’t really know what love is, dude… Despite knowing how Nakajima and Kawano feel about me.”
I truly thought he was just a dense guy, unaware of Nakajima’s love for him.
“Nakajima and I worked together part-time, and I often covered up for her constant mistakes, and she’s been talking quite aggressively to me since that day… To be honest, I’ve always thought myself to be someone detached from love and romance.”
As he said these words, he had quite a mature look on his face. After him droppçing all that, I asked him straight out.
“How do you feel about Nakajima-san?”
“… I like her, but it’s different. It’s kind of like how I feel about my sister… I can say this because I know what it feels to truly like someone.”
“Hayakawa, is there someone you like? C–Could it be Hirano-kun?”
“W–What the f*ck?! Why is he coming up all of a sudden?! Good grief, you’re a blockhead as ever. You may be a great fighter but you’re still a muttonhead… Either way, I don’t wanna keep talking about myself. So, which one of the two do you like?”
I can clearly say it in my heart. I love Reika… But for some reason, I couldn’t just blurt it out loud, as if the words got stuck in my throat, unable to leave.
Then, my phone buzzed.
“Ah, it’s Reika. Erm, she wants to take a bath and grab something to eat.”
“… I see, then let’s get ready and go! Your beloved Sakashita and Mashima are waiting for you out there!”
“I–Idiot! It’s n–not like that!”
“Guh?! Don’t just hit me in the stomach just ‘cuz you’re embarrassed! What are you, a middle schooler?!”
I saw him look sad for a moment, but no matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t figure out what it meant.
”—What are you, a middle schooler?!”
I, Rio Kayakawa, have my own view on Toshiki and all that’s happened.
That guy used to spend all his time with Mashima. From the outside, it was as if they were dating. However, I knew she constantly switched boyfriends. Regardless of that, people around them always knew she’d go back to him anyway.
Mashima was severely dependent on Toshiki, and he was on her. That’s how I saw it… But that dynamic changed after the Hiratsuka incident.
Honestly, I’m happy Toshiki woke up and broadened his horizons. He even became more human and likable than before.
… But then Reika Sakashita transferred to our school, all for Toshiki.
Despite all that happened, I fell in love with her the moment my eyes graced her… Love. But no matter what I felt, I could see it in her eyes the man she loved was Toshiki.
Until then, I had no clue what falling in love really meant. Kawano and I were tentative lovers, but what I felt for her was that I “liked” her, not “loved.” It’s different.
I truly understood what love was when I met Sakashita, and for understanding it I knew right then that she was in love with another guy. After realizing it, I thought they’d probably get together soon. Instead, their relationship grew at the pace of a snail…
And such slow progress was because Mashima was there to interfere… Ugh, is this some sort of middle-school-love drama or something?
Either way, in the deepest corners of my mind, I wished Toshiki would just date Mashima, and I hated myself for thinking so. I know that, no matter what happens, Sakashita will never love me back.
I don’t know the details of what happened between Toshiki and Mashima, and I don’t need to. Both are my friends regardless of their past.
“Hayakawa? You ready? If you don’t hurry, you’ll be late!”
“Yeah, I’m just getting my stuff together, so go ahead! You’ll go to the lobby, right?”
“Yeah, see you later.”
I sigh as I look over at Toshiki’s shrinking back… Damn, you should be less dense dude! You love Sakashita, don’t you? Hurry up and confess! Make me give up on this fruitless love!
But y’know what, despite all this, I like Toshiki. When I met him, I thought he was just another weirdo, but he’s a straightforward and pure dude. I’m sure he’d protect Mashima and Sakashita even if the world became their enemy.
I don’t give a sh*t about him being good at fighting. He’s shy, timid, fun to watch, and places his friends before himself…
—That’s why I just want him to be happy.
As soon as I thought that, I heard a knock on the door. I check to make sure no tears rolled down my cheek, opening it right after.
“S–Senpai? I–It’s late, so I came to pick you up… Did I bother you?”
Nakajima stood there looking like she didn’t belong.
“Mhm, it’s fine. I’ll be ready in a minute, give me a second!”
I didn’t want her to see my mushy face, so I turned my back to her and pretended to grab some stuff. Suddenly, however, I felt a warmth spread across my back—She hugged me from behind.
I felt my heart about to burst out of my chest. W–What the hell is she doing?! The only time I’ve ever touched a woman was when I played with my sister hand-in-hand when we were kids…
“I thought you were a very annoying person when we first met, Hayakawa-senpai. You were nasty, vulgar, and mean… But you were working hard on your job. You were always working, doing a job you hate without complaining or hesitating… You always put a smile on your face, even though you’re going through a lot with your mom, and you’re the kindest to your sister, too… I… I…”
Her hands, wrapped around my waist, were trembling.
“… Senpai, you can be honest with me, ‘kay? You like Reika-san, don’t you?”
I wanted to say no. I fell in love with someone I shouldn’t and wouldn’t have, so I thought I could just drown out all these feelings to the deepest pits of my heart… Instead, my heart was about to break down, and it happened as soon as she worded what I couldn’t put into words.
“Just don’t turn around yet, let me do this for a bit longer… I also have a terrible expression on my face.”
“W–What’s with the formal tone, sh*t… Why are you being so nice to me… What if I start falling for you?”
I don’t know whose fault is that my heart is racing. Is it because I was found out and had my feelings worded out by Nakajima? Or was it that, through all my tears she seems strangely cute?
… Damn it.
“I’ve always been waiting, and I’ll always be waiting for you, senpai… That’s why—”
She turned me around, grabbed my face, moved her lips closer to mine… and kissed me. While her lips touched mine, I couldn’t make out right from left, and my own being was in disarray. I didn’t know what was happening.
Then she parts her mouth from mine and slowly backs away, eyes locked on mine with a crying smile.
“This is a loan… I’ll definitely make you fall in love with me one day, senpai.”
And her words were firm, unshaken.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to comment your opinions below!
Also, if you enjoyed my translation and would like to feed my caffeine addiction, click on the button below and graciously give me my fix—I mean, a cup of coffee.