“Yay! They have done it, Takamiya-senpai!”
“You’re kidding, right…? I never expected them to win…”
Suzune Takamiya was staring blankly at the court from the cheering seats. Next to her, Shiori Kamishiro was hopping around in excitement, but Suzune couldn’t share the same joy. Despite the supposed happiness, she couldn’t accept the reality in front of her. She couldn’t have imagined this would happen just a few months ago.
As she directed her gaze towards the figure of Toshirou Himura, who was raising his arms in a victory pose towards them, her cheeks flushed red.
She couldn’t help but think it was unexpectedly good. Unexpectedly. Truly unexpected.
Suzune wasn’t the only one feeling bewildered. When she looked in his direction, she saw the club advisor Kyougaku Andou with wide eyes filled with astonishment. He had been in charge of the struggling basketball club, adopting a laissez-faire approach that could be seen as both positive and negative. Perhaps he couldn’t keep up with the transformation of the now-strong basketball club.
The school’s perspective and expectations would surely change. It was certain that their budget would be increased for the next term. It was the Inter-High Preliminary Tournament. The boys’ basketball team of Shouyo High School, led by Toshirou Himura , advanced to the third round. They were going to the B Block fourth round. Their achievements as a boys’ basketball team were impeccable.
Considering that they had struggled to even make it past the first round before, this was a major upset, an undeniable feat. If they won the next two matches, including the fourth round next week, they would reach the finals league. And beyond that awaited the Inter-High.
Originally, it had been a laid-back club where basketball enthusiasts gathered to have fun. Participating in tournaments was just for commemoration.
But now, there was no trace of that. The passion they had invested in this tournament was not inferior to that of other schools.
It could be seen in their demeanor. There was not a single member who didn’t have the face of a fighter. The sense of fulfillment was evident on their faces. It was not a coincidence. It was a result backed by their efforts.
Things had changed. They had been changed. And no one would feel it more than the members of the boys’ basketball team. Toshirou Himura’s decision had brought about an immense transformation in the basketball club. Like a red dye mingling with scarlet, their boiling passion and overflowing sweat spread through them.
The dream didn’t end today. Last summer was still ongoing.
“Senpai, let’s go to everyone! Captain Himura is waiting too!”
“Hey, Kamishiro-san, don’t pull me!”
Chasing after her junior who dashed ahead, Suzune’s heart was filled with both joy and lingering anxiety.
The game ended, and they finished preparing to leave. Suzune Takamiya was also amidst the circle of joy.
“Thank you for coming to cheer, Suzune. Your presence became my strength.”
“Just a little longer, just a little longer. I will definitely become a man worthy of you!”
While she thought warmly of Toshirou speaking so passionately, her expression clouded at his words.
She forced a smile, not wanting him to perceive her swirling emotions.
“…Um, it looks like Chigusa Academy won against Kuwa-senpai’s team. Tei-Wang, where Daigo-senpai is, also won. But they’re in Block D. It’s a shame we won’t meet until the finals league.”
“It’s better not to face them if we can’t win for sure.”
“Well, that’s true, but don’t say things without dreams.”
The voices of Kouki Mihou and Yukito Kokonoe, conversing behind them, reached her ears.
Suzune had an uneasy feeling towards Yukito Kokonoe. It wasn’t that she disliked him. On the contrary, she thought favorably of him. Since entering school, Yukito Kokonoe, a first-year student, had risen to prominence numerous times, and there was not a single student who didn’t know about his eventful school life.
While some disliked him, many admired him, and he had countless fans among the third-year students as well. Even in Suzune’s class, there was a classmate who had approached him for love advice.
While the legends surrounding him were uncertain, there was no doubt that at least a part, if not all, of the rumors were true, based on the incident that had stirred the entire school through the intercom announcement.
Above all, Suzune had nothing but gratitude for the fact that Toshirou Himura had invited Yukito Kokonoe to the basketball club. And yet…
(Why, Toshirou? Did you forget our promise…?)
Her chest tightened. In the end, it was ugly jealousy. Selfish, self-centered, and spoiled.
She didn’t expect the kind of confession that Toshirou imagined. For the two who had harbored feelings for each other since middle school, there was no need for special words to understand each other’s feelings.
For Suzune, as long as she could spend this last time of their highschool third year with Toshirou, it would be enough.
She didn’t desire any changes. There was no need for things to change. That was her sincere and honest sentiment.
They had decided to attend the same university. For the two of them, this summer was the deadline.
The university that Suzune Takamiya aspires to is a high hurdle for Toshirou Himura . After the summer tournament, he had promised to retire from the club and start studying seriously together for university entrance exams. But now, Toshirou and the others are immersed in basketball even on their days off. It felt as if it was robbing Suzune of their precious time together, and she found it unbearable.
(What’s the point of working hard now when they’ve been weak all along? It doesn’t matter if Toshirou and the others try their best now!?)
Those feelings should be entrusted to the underclassmen. Fortunately, the first-year students are exceptional. Leading the transitional phase of the basketball club is not the role of the third-year students. It’s an unspoken feeling that she could never utter.
Even if they had lost in the first round, it would have been fine. Regardless of their performance, her answer wouldn’t have changed if Toshirou had confessed. They had spent enough time together for that.
Suzune continues to struggle with conflicting emotions, torn between wanting to support him sincerely and her ugly feelings of jealousy.
“We still have a long way to go. Suzune, we can become stronger and stronger!”
Toshirou’s passionate words sounded somewhat hollow. It was too late for the third-year students to say such things.
Suzune had met Toshirou Himura in her second year of middle school. At first, she simply thought of him as a hot-headed guy.
But it was different. He was overflowing with a sense of justice, earnest to the point of clumsiness.
At one point, he had reprimanded a girl who was subjecting others to unpleasant teasing, not quite bullying. Looking back, that might have been the first time she had ever been conscious of someone of the opposite sex.
It didn’t take long for Suzune Takamiya to be drawn to his way of life. Time passed by quickly.
Strangely enough, they ended up in the same class from then on. It’s more accurate to say it was an unusual connection. As their relationship deepened, she recalled how people around them often said that they were mismatched.
Perhaps Toshirou had been conscious of that all along.
If that is the reason why Toshiro Himura is so obsessed with the outcome, then Yukito Kokonoe has done a very cruel thing. He has given him hope. The hope of a dream. But it is poison.
Looking back, Yukito Kokonoe was looking at the tournament bracket with a stern expression. He opened his notebook and muttered something to himself. Kouki Mihou, who was next to him, peeked into the notebook.
Yukito Kokonoe abruptly closed the notebook and started walking towards Suzune.
“Takamiya-senpai, I want to talk to you about something later.”
Under the intense gaze, Suzune found herself nodding unintentionally.
When it comes to detectives, I am a purist, but when it comes to art, there is no shortage of the XXX school.
From classical to impressionist, and realism, there are various styles. However, in the presence of artistic beauty, I switched to the Yuri-san school. The completion of modern art that earnestly pursues Yuri-san’s beauty is the mission entrusted to me.
I don’t feel guilty about it, but I think it’s pointless to feel guilty.
No matter how strong my mental adaptability is like a bear bug, there are limits. Especially, the graceful and beautiful thighs, calves, and ankle with the golden ratio can be called the three principles of beautiful legs.
That being said, after school, I head to the art club with Hinagi, who seems nervous.
It’s understandable that Hinagi is nervous since it’s an awkward time. Although I confirmed with classmates, there were no art club members in Class B, so the atmosphere of the club is unknown. I’m just accompanying her, but Hinagi wants to observe once and then officially submit her application.
“…Thank you for coming with me.”
“I’m doing this because I’m worried about you. Listen, Hinagi, if they try to force you into being a nude model, refuse firmly or run away immediately. Don’t forget to seek help from adults. The phone number for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Children’s SOS Counseling Hotline is—”
“Why are you worrying about me so much!”
Hinagi-chan’s face turns bright red, but school is always filled with danger. It’s important to stay vigilant. Anticipating the unexpected is the necessary ability to survive in the school’s survival space.
“There’s something I want to give you. Take this.”
“It’s a painting knife for use in art. Listen, if something happens, use this to stab the person and run away. Don’t hesitate if you feel danger. Above all, prioritize your safety.”
“What do you think the art club is!?”
“You never know what might happen!”
“That’s only for you, Yukito!”
The word knife stabs deeply. Hinagi-chan’s sharpness in putting the lesson into practice was impressive. She becomes the Jackknife Hinagi, who hurts anyone she touches. It’s kind of cool. I’m quite satisfied.
“Hinagin, try saying, ‘Approach me and you’ll get hurt.'”
“? Approach me and you’ll get hurt. Is this okay?”
“Hey, you made me say it!”
Hinagi-chan is pouting, but it seems it’s not constipation.”
Feeling relieved by the unreasonable demands, I let out a deep sigh.
“Well, you don’t have to worry that much. Sanjoji-sensei is the advisor”
“Mou, why didn’t you mention that earlier?”
If Sanjoji-sensei, who could be considered the conscience of this school, is the advisor, then I can relax.
Entering the art room, they begin preparations for the club activities.
Among them, there were familiar faces. The most troublesome monster in this school.
“Oya, what are you doing here? Do you need something from the art club?”
“Strange bird?” [TL: It is pronounced as Kaichou]
“She is the student council president. Why are you treating her like a monster?… Um, today I came to observe before joining the club. Nice to meet you, and I hope to get along with you!”
“You are Suzurikawa-san, right? Welcome.”
Whether Sanjoji-sensei had heard about it in advance from Hinagi, they greeted her with a smile.
“So you’re a first-year student hoping to join the club. It’s appreciated since, as you can see, we have few members.”
“Why is the president here?”
“I am the club president.”
“Is this art club really okay?”
Is this art club really okay?
“Yukito, your true thoughts are leaked out”
I find it amusing how harsh Hinagi-chan is like the student council president.
“Mikumo-senpai, is it okay for this person to be the president?”
“Well, she is usually decent, you know?”
Next to President Kedou, there is Vice President Mikumo, who is said to be the person always by his side, as a matter of course.
I feel bad for Mikumo Senpai, but I must admit that she is not very convincing.
“That’s the capital of Austria… It’s famous for its art museums and such, so it would be nice to visit there someday. I’ve always admired it since I’ve never been on a trip abroad.”
“I’m actually into art these days. It’s called the Yuri school.”
“…… Yuri School?”
It seems my sister wants to visit Schönbrunn Palace. I wonder why? [TL: During the reign of Maria Theresa, as an imperial summer residence, Schönbrunn Palace became the glittering focus of court life]
“Yukito Kokonoe, aren’t you in the basketball club? Are you here as an escort?”
“Something like that.”
“I deeply regret it. No matter how much I regret it, I can’t regret it enough. I feel inadequate. I haven’t even thanked you properly last time, and although it was due to Erika’s rampage, I ended up causing trouble for you again. This time, it’s a clear case of unfair punishment. It’s only natural that Yuri is furious. Just apologizing won’t make it forgiven.”
With tears welling up in the corners of her eyes, President Kedou was overwhelmed with thoughts. Her clenched fist trembled on her knee.
The school had officially apologized, and thanks to the efforts of Hinagi and the others, I still had a place in this school.
That alone was enough. I didn’t think I had such worth, but I couldn’t thank them enough.
But whether I could forgive her or not was up to me. Just because I forgave her didn’t mean it was okay.
In fact, I was surprised when Tojou-senpai said “I’m going to cut my hair” in an attempt to show her sincerity. I hurried to stop her, but it would have been a problem if she had done so in an apology. I felt sorry for him. Incidentally, Himiyama-san had said to Papa Tojo, “When you apologize, you should at least cut off your hair”. Scary. She seemed to be very angry. By the way, I stopped him, too. For the Tojo family, I am the guardian of their hair, and it is no exaggeration to say that I am their hair master.
The Student Council President, who stood up abruptly, grabbed my shoulders. Her eyes were spinning around.
“I don’t think this is enough, but Yukito Kokonoe. I’ll become a nude model!”
“It’s nothing more than a crude gesture, but it’s the only thing I can do! It’s okay Yuumi, let me go!”
As President Kedou tried to take off her uniform, Vice President Mikumo grabbed her from behind and restrained her.
“What nonsense are you talking about! Kedou-san, calm down!”
Nonsense? Was it nonsense? I couldn’t help but feel annoyed at Sanjoi-sensei admonishing President Kedou.
“In that case, Sanjoiji-sensei, can you take over?”
“What are you saying!?”
“Oya oya, what’s the matter, Sensei? There is nothing wrong with it. I can leave it to the Student Council President as it is. In that case, I won’t hold President Kedou responsible for anything that happens.”
“Damn it!… Are you trying to threaten me? But to sacrifice the student…”
“Oh well, should I ask President Kedou then?”
“Look, Yuumi. Even Yukito Kokonoe is saying the same thing. There’s no problem at all! Let go!”
“There’s no way that’s true!”
“President Kedou understands. This is what responsibility means. And in comparison…”
“I… I understand. I understand! I’m doing this to protect the students. I will take over, so please don’t touch Kedou! I will become the nude model!”
“That depends on the teacher’s attitude, doesn’t it? …Nicha.”
“Why are you forcing her?”
I was suddenly hit on the head by Hinagi-chan—huh!? What the heck? I snapped back to my senses. It seems I was hypnotized after looking into Kedou’s eyes. It must be her Mystic Eyes after all.
But still, Sanjoji-sensei, who willingly goes along with such playful jokes, is truly an exemplary teacher. It’s hard to believe that someone entrusted with student guidance is being disliked.
“Yukito, are you not satisfied unless you have done something mischievous?”
I averted my gaze from Hinagi-chan’s stern look and whistled silently.
After the series of commotions, the art room finally regained its calmness.
In a way, this could be considered a light warm-up before club activities.
“Cough. Let’s start our activities soon. We’ll discuss the matter later.”
No, it won’t be good to leave it for later.
“By the way, Yukito Kokonoe, are you joining us today?”
“I have the intention to. I even brought my crayons.”
I took out the 100-color crayon set that my mother bought for me a long time ago.
This item, which had been sleeping in the closet without any particular use for a long time, has seen a significant increase in its frequency of use recently. It has become an indispensable item for me, who has awakened to the Yuri style.
“Today is a fine day, shall we go outside for some sketching?”
Following Sanjoji-sensei’s decision, I grab my belongings and head outside.
“I’m looking forward to it! What are you going to draw, Yukito?”
“Right, maybe you, I guess”
Blushing, Hinagi-chan lowers her head. While a landscape painting would be fine, as a Yuri enthusiast, I naturally lean towards drawing people.
As if remembering something, Sanjoji-sensei speaks up.
“By the way, participation is optional, but would you two like to consider entering the art competition? ‘Summer of Art’ can be a wonderful experience.”
“An art competition?”
“What do you think, Yukito? I want to participate!”
The art club participates every year as part of their activities, but students outside the club are also free to enter.
“It’s summer vacation, a great opportunity to try new things. Let’s give it a shot.”
“Please do your best. Fufu, I’m glad you showed interest.”
Apart from the president, the art club is a warm and wonderful club. I wish Advisor Sanjoji-sensei, who is kind and hasn’t bothered me at all while leaving everything to me, could be a role model for Advisor Andou-sensei of the boys’ basketball club. Hinagi should be able to thrive here without any worries. There’s no need for concern.
Thinking about the motif, we step outside. Bathed in the dazzling sunlight, we start drawing our pictures.