Nearly a week after the festival, the heat that had been smoldering in the school had cooled down considerably, and the third-year students had switched entirely over to exam mode. The same was true for those of us who were aiming for the same university, and the four of us still held frequent study sessions. Even after Satoru’s successful confession at the after-night festival, we still studied diligently.
“Wait, Satoru-san and Tanuki-san. Isn’t the distance between you guys a little awkward?”
“Huh? What are you talking about, Yuuri? I’m just having Kozue teach me how to study.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so. I think it’s the same as before… Hey, hey, don’t you think so too, Kanade-chan?”
“I think I’m close too. I also think we are very close. I taught him well, but when we were looking at reference books together, our heads were almost always attached.”
These two have changed not only in distance but also in what they call each other. They used to call each other by their last names, but now they call each other by their first names. I had never seen Tanuki-san call a guy by his first name, so I was a bit stuttered when she first called Satoru by his first name.
I and Kanade have been having the most fun lately teasing these two smiling faces. Whenever we tease them a little, they both go awww, as they are doing now, and we never get tired of watching them.
If they really don’t like it, of course, I would stop them right away, but they always look at each other and laugh happily after a moment of fawning, so I guess they are not too upset. Kanade, who was watching over them, was also smiling happily.
When I got home and went into my room, I sat down on my study desk chair and put my phone to sleep. I opened RINE and sent a message to Yoshi-chan.
“Sorry to bother you so late at night. Are you still awake?”
“It’s totally fine! I’m so happy to see you on RINE! What’s wrong?”
I felt a prickle of joy in my heart as I pictured Yoshi-chan being really happy to hear RINE from me.
“I was wondering if you wanted to go home with me tomorrow after school.”
“Of course, that’s fine! It’s unusual for Yuuri-senpai to ask me out!”
“I’ve always been asked out by you. Then tomorrow, I’ll meet you near the school gate.”
“Yes, okay! I’m looking forward to it.”
I closed my phone and faced the reference book in front of me, but I just couldn’t concentrate, so I lay down on the bed and went to sleep.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. You’re early.”
“I was so excited to be able to go home from school with Yuuri-senpai that I came as fast as I could to the school gate.”
Yoshi-chan must have been really looking forward to it. Yoshi-chan’s smile was too bright for me to look directly at her right now. So I look away for a moment.
“Okay, let’s go home then, shall we? And if you want, we can pick up some crepes on the way and eat them in the park.”
“Oh, that sounds great! Maybe I’ll get one with more whipped cream.”
We talked about the festival, school, and other things as we walked home together. We bought crepes on the way home, but Yoshi-chan ordered more whipped cream, so the volume of the crepe was completely ridiculous.
“Yo, Yoshi-chan. Are you sure you can eat all of that?
“I can eat this much in plenty of time! Don’t underestimate the power of a JK.”
I looked at Yoshi-chan, who had really eaten up the crepe, and all I could do was apologize to her honestly. I still had more than half of it left, so until I finished eating it, Yoshi-chan asked me many questions about my exam studies and what I wanted to do when I went to college. Then, when I finished eating, Yoshi-chan suddenly turned serious and looked at my profile.
“Yuuri-senpai. You have something you want to say to me, right?”
I looked at Yoshi-chan’s face in surprise.
Instead of the happy look she had earlier, she had a confident expression on her face, as if she was frightened of something.
“I’m sorry, senpai. I couldn’t hold back, so I said it myself.”
“No, it’s okay. But why did you think so?”
“Because you were totally different from the senpai I had seen before. How much do you think I’ve seen of my senpai? I don’t want you to think less of me than I do of eating crepes.”
I really can’t hide it from this girl.
She is a smart girl, so I think she will understand the words I am about to say.
“Yoshi-chan. I can’t go out with you.”
When I said this, Yoshi-chan’s face turned down.
When she looked up again, she looked me straight in the eye again and said, “I don’t like it.” I was puzzled by her unexpected response, but she continued.
“I absolutely hate it. I can’t imagine not going out with my senpai. I love you so much. I love him. I have always, always loved him. I can’t think of anything else but my senpai.”
“I’m sorry. I still can’t go out with you.”
“…Is that because Kanade-senpai is there? Do you like Kanade-senpai? Do you want to go out with Kanade-senpai?”
“…Ah. Ah, yes. I like Kanade. That’s why I can’t go out with Yoshi-chan.”
“I am more devoted to senpai than Kanade-senpai. I will continue to give my love to my senpai. So, therefore, I beg you. Please go out with me.”
“I’m glad you feel that way, Yoshi-chan. I’m sorry. I want to go out with Kanade.”
Yoshi-chan stared at me with an emotionally bare expression on her face. His eyes seemed to have a thin layer of tears in them.
Yoshi-chan stared at me for a while, but suddenly her face went straight up and she froze. I wonder how long she stayed like that. I couldn’t speak to her during that time.
Then, she lowered her face and looked at me again with her usual bright smile.
“Ohhhh. I thought Yuuri-senpai was so kind that if I was really selfish, he would say yes. As I thought, I couldn’t.”
Seeing Yoshi-chan’s smile made my heart ache more than ever.
“Senpai. Please don’t look at me like that. I don’t want to make you suffer. I want my favorite senpai to keep smiling.”
He must have had a very bad expression on his face. Yoshi-chan looked anxious.
“I’m all right now. I have told senpai all about my feelings. I regret that I couldn’t go out with senpai, but I still have no regrets. I don’t have any regrets, because my senpai was very patient with me. He thought it over and gave me an answer.”
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry, Yoshi-chan.”
“Please don’t apologize. I will always be on the side of Yuuri-senpai. Senpai, please be happy.”
Yoshi-chan didn’t shed any tears, but I cried a lot.
It was pathetic. I was so spoiled by her kindness to the end.
“Yoshi-chan, thank you. Thank you…”
“I’ll be fine. Oh, I’m going to stay in this park for a little while longer, so if you don’t mind, could you go home first?”
“Oh, ah… I’ll be on my way. Thank you so much, Yoshi-chan.”
“Thank you very much. Please be careful on your way home.”
Leaving Yoshi-chan sitting on the bench like that, I headed home alone.