“I’m sorry, but I lost to Haruka’s class. That was just too good to be true. …… And Miyazaki-san is also good and cute. ……”
After finishing the ball game in the morning, we are eating lunch.
We are in our own classroom, unlike usual. It was a ball game today, so most of the students were eating in the courtyard or in the corner of the field.
It was refreshing to eat lunch alone in the classroom.
“But you won the first round, right? And you have a few games this afternoon, right? …… Can I go see again? Besides, Anri is definitely prettier than Miyazaki.”
It was a slip of the tongue. Anri doesn’t understand how cute she is. …… I’m very worried.
“Ma, Makoto! I-I’m so embarrassed ……. But I would be very happy if you could see it. ……”
“I-I could only play baseball as hard as I did because Anri was watching me. ……”
I feel a little embarrassed and turn my face away. Anri was beaming, too.
Suddenly, I looked down the hallway and saw Haruka walking down the hall. Next to …… her were Kisaragi and …… Nanako.
Anri almost spilled the juice she was drinking.
“Fue? I-Is that Nanako-san? Eh? Wait, she’s that cute?”
Nanako-san’s appearance had changed since I had accompanied Anri to her practice.
Can I say she’s back? No, I could see that she looked more innocent than ever.
Her hair was neatly trimmed and she wore light makeup. She was wearing her uniform perfectly.
Above all, the impression of her eyes was different. The sneer in her eyes was gone and she had a cheerful expression.
“Fuwa……She’s too cute. …… Na-Nanako, wanted to be friends with Makoto, didn’t she? ……y-yeah, well, Makoto, y-you should go talk to Nanako-san. ……”
I gave a small shake of my head.
“No, Nanako will be fine with Haruka. She doesn’t need me. Besides, Anri is prettier.”
Then Anri said to me with her mouth agape.
“Muu……….I don’t think so. …… Ugh, I’m starting to hate myself for being so small and bewildered. ……”
I patted Anri on the head without thinking.
“…… I get bothered when Anri talks to other boys. …… Maybe I’m more jealous than I thought. …… N-no, and a-as a friend.”
“Y-yeah, a-as friends. …… fufu. ……”
The smile returned to Anri’s face. The distance between Anri and me as friends can’t be measured in terms of normal people. This is the distance between us.
Anri stands up and moves her chair to the side of mine.
Then she sits up close to me and puts her head on my shoulder. It was just like that nap.
“I-I’m tired in the morning, so I want to be healed by your element ……, is that okay?”
“y-yeah, I don’t mind, but ……”
I was afraid that someone would see us, but it doesn’t matter now. It’s all right as long as Anri and I understand each other.
“Ah Onii……I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to disturb you!”
“Uwaa, lovey-dovey. ……”
“Well, Kisaragi, it’s fine if Shinjo-kun is happy, right?”
What a surprise, Haruka and the others came into our classroom.
But when they saw us, they stopped, giving us a kind of warm look.
Anri straightened her posture and beckoned to Haruka. Anri’s face was red, as if she was a little embarrassed. Haruka, my stepsister, approached me, coughing.
Nanako and Kisaragi were behind Haruka. They look like a bunch of brats.
“Goh, gohon, onii, chan……, um, well, sorry for interrupting.”
Haruka looked like she wanted to say something. However, she was unable to say anything and seemed to be searching for words in her head.
“Haruka, it’s fine.Take your time. No need to rush. If there’s something you want to say, just say it.”
When I said that, Haruka’s shoulders relaxed.
Then she gave me a somewhat nostalgic look. Her voice had a seriousness to it.
“…… I’m an idiot, so I can’t say …… well. It’s ……, so it’s simple, right?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
Haruka looked me straight in the eye.
” …… I’m sorry for everything I’ve done. I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused you. ……”
Nanako lightly tapped Kisaragi’s arm behind her.
And the two behind her followed suit.
“Ah, it’s not a matter of apologizing, but first I must apologize. …… Makoto, I’m sorry for the false confession I made. Thank you for rejecting me when I was twisted. …… Don’t care about me, care about Haruka. ……”
“Shinjo-kun, Karaoke, I’m really sorry. Whatever the reason, it’s my fault for betraying you. You don’t have to forgive me, but I want you to be friends with Haruka-chan. ……”
Haruka turned around in surprise, perhaps because she hadn’t expected the two of them to act the way they did.
“Wai, both of you?! T-That’s not what you said earlier. I-It’s too late for that now.
It was sudden.
All the events of the past were replayed in my mind at once, as if in time-lapse.
It tormented my heart. It pierced my heart.
But I had decided to face the past.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel pain. Being with Anri made me realize that my heart was broken.
That is why…
“Is it too late …..huh?”
I continued my words. Haruka’s face oozed guilt.
“Haruka, why are you treating me like a stranger now? I’m your …… big brother, right? It’s ……, so you can call me ‘big brother’ again.”
” Ah, …….”
I stood up.
Then I gently hugged Haruka’s trembling little body.
The love as a family.
There was something in my heart that filled me with joy.
When I was a child, my stepsister Haruka walked behind me. Sometimes it was annoying. I also remember being happy to have a sister. Our relationship went awry after the incident with Miyazaki.
If I had insisted more clearly on my innocence, things might have turned out differently.
However, children have their own world.
Haruka has been trying to get closer to me little by little since before she graduated from junior high school. I used honorific language and put up a wall.
I didn’t see my family as a family. I was just a roommate.
And even when Haruka said that she believed in me, I was left with nothing but emptiness in my heart.
But now, here she is, trembling a little. She is my sister, my family, and nothing has changed since we were kids.
I face the past as a thing of the past. Before Haruka is crushed by guilt, and before she breaks down, I…
“It’s okay. Haruka, please call me Onii-chan…”
“…..U, uu…..O, o…..o, Oni-i-chan…..Onii-chan, Onii-chan, Onii-chan! M-Makoto is Haruka’s Onii-chan….”
“Yeah, my little sister”
Haruka was hugging me around my stomach and crying.
Her inarticulate voice echoed through the classroom.
Nanako and Kisaragi are also in tears.
I turn my gaze to them.
“Kisaragi, Nanako-san ……, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care at all about the past, but ……, it’s okay. So just be normal. This is not a matter of forgiving or not forgiving. Because we are still children. We’re all going to make mistakes.
If we make a mistake, we can redo it.
It’s human beings who can’t do such simple things.
I decided to lend my stomach to Haruka until she stopped crying. It’s because she’s my sister.
The ball game ended successfully.
Our class came in second place.
It was the highest ranking for a freshman.
Yamada was lamenting, but when Tanaka-san said, “W-we’re the first-year class to win ……, let’s go to the bookstore,” Yamada’s lament turned into a scream. It’s so noisy.
Haruka’s class won the girls’ volleyball competition by a wide margin.
To be honest, her athleticism was that good. In the afternoon, Haruka seemed to have lost her temper and was in full force.
She got the top grade in the …… final exam and avoided red marks. I’ve heard that she is busy helping out with club activities during the summer vacation. …… Is she okay with her homework?
I heard that Nanako regained her cheerfulness and enjoyed the ball game.
The number of girls who tease the brighter Nanako has decreased, and she is able to live a relatively peaceful life.
Being cheerful to begin with, she will soon be free of harassment and will have many friends.
She doesn’t want to see anyone make mistakes anymore.
For the first time, Anri and I were invited to a class launch, but we politely declined.
It’s not that we didn’t want to go. Maybe we could have enjoyed it now.
But Anri and I wanted to have the launch party alone.
The place was a deserted shopping mall.
The place where Anri and I first became aware of each other.
On our table, there was juice, fries, a writing tablet and a keyboard.
“Hey, Nyanta, let’s have a novel battle on today’s ball game theme, shall we?”
“Pomeko, you’re talking like a yankee.”
“No, it’s okay! That’s because that’s what I was when I met you here……”
“Then that’s fine …… So the time limit is thirty minutes, right?
“Yeah, I’m gonna write a really funny story!”
This is our launch. This is the novel that connected me and Pomeko.
When I come here, I can’t believe how long ago it was.
Pomeko-san began to write quietly.
She looked so cute in her glasses.
I decided to write about my current feelings. The theme of the story was a ball game, but if I hadn’t met …… Pomeko, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
The next 30 minutes went by in the blink of an eye.
“Oshi, I’m done! …… Oh, ……Ah, w-wait a minute. I can’t show this to N-N-Nyanta… ……”
For some reason, Pomeko’s face was bright red when she finished writing.
And me too.
“Y-yeah, I might not be able to show my novel to …… Pomeko-san either. …… Wait, that’s a little embarrassing.”
I don’t know what Pomeko-san wrote about me. But when I reread …… the things I wrote, it looked like love letters.
It was a novel sent to Pomeko with words, expressions and feelings that only she could understand.
We both looked at each other and fidgeted.
Pomeko-san opened her mouth as if to break the atmosphere.
“A-Alright, I-It’s a draw for today! …… Uhm, oh, yes, that’s right. I’ve written a complete version of the story for my upcoming book. …… Ny-Nyanta I want you to see it…..”
Pomeko-san handed me the tablet with trepidation.
For some reason, her face was still bright red.
The title written on it was.
“The most important friend in the world, [the one I love.]”
End of volume 5