“That …… special feeling?”
I gulp and ask.
“Like romantic feelings,”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I don’t know about Aoyama-san, but I think at least Akazawa-san and Kuromine-san have feelings similar to that.”
It was far from unexpected.
In the past two years, my appearance has changed.
I was confident that I had improved a lot compared to before, and I had been making a lot of effort in running and muscle training. I am honestly happy to receive recognition for that.
However, my inner life has not changed that much.
I was a spineless man over there, and I still have no experience with women. I have been living under the same roof with my stepsister, Kanon, since I came back here, but I don’t think that has improved my inner self. I am not confident that I can talk in a way that pleases girls, and I don’t even understand how to act like a gentleman.
The inside has not changed, but have they jumped up from dislike to love?
Does that mean they only see what people look like? I don’t know if that’s a goddess thing to do.
“……, you’re sure you’re not mistaken?”
“No, it’s true.”
“What’s your proof?”
“Do you remember when I called Shota-san a friend in the conference room?”
How could I forget?
The actuality that the air tingled for a moment at that time is still fresh in my mind.
“Akazawa-san’s eyes had turned completely dangerous.”
“…… come to think of it.”
Indeed, Akazawa at that time was dangerous.
“Perhaps it was jealousy.”
“No, it was simply because she thought that she would lose my vote because I, her classmate, became Shirase’s friend.”
“Is that all it took for her to have that look in her eyes?”
It’s impossible, isn’t it? That or unusual for just one vote.
Seriously, is it jealousy?
I’ve never seen that guy jealous in my memory. That’s right. Akazawa used to get along well with Renji. There was no way she could be jealous. They were the most popular couple in school, and there was no room for others to come in.
“I can say this because we were childhood friends, but she liked Renji. At least that much I can be sure of.”
“But two years has passed”
“You mean to say that during the two years that Shota-san was away, she had been in love with one man?”
I see, you hit a sore spot. I don’t know what happened during the blank period.
Generally speaking, couples in the world break up after two years. It’s like a student romance or something like that.
“As for Kuromine-san, it’s easy to understand. Shota is the only boy on campus that she talks to. I was convinced by her attitude when we went to the pool. She has never been that close to a man before. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Yakumo is a good example. We went out to the pool together, but she didn’t talk, right?”
Thinking back, I don’t remember her talking to Yakumo-kun.
I still couldn’t believe it.
“Wasn’t it because I dispelled the rumor?”
“Even if that was the trigger, it’s hard to imagine that she would have reacted the way she did just because of your kindness.”
“What about Kanon being her crony?”
“That may have been a factor, but I don’t think it’s enough to warrant special treatment.”
“…… Actually, Kuromine and I work at the same place.”
I told her that I work part-time at a bookstore. Midway through the first semester, before the rumors were dispelled, she said we had known each other.
“Are you trying to tell me that’s why she was able to talk to you?”
“Her guard is not so lenient that she can approach you for that kind of thing. Please think about it. Certainly, having the same part-time job is an approachable factor, but you can also get closer by being in the same class, on the same committee, or in the same club. Has she ever approached anyone other than Shota-san?”
No, she has not.
At least I don’t know, and I don’t think any of the guys at the school know.
Certainly not. I had mistakenly thought that the fact that we worked at the same part-time job was a strong reason, but now that being told, I wonder if simply working at the same part-time job would cure her man-hatred.
If that were the case, the only reason I could think of was…
“She must have fallen in love with you.”
It was hard to believe, but the circumstantial evidence was there.
“Only Aoyama-san is unknown, but I’ve heard that she and you are gaming buddies.”
“You could say that.”
“No ill feelings at least, I suppose.”
As for Aoyama, I am not sure, but I can certainly conclude that there are no bad feelings from the way we play games.
“…… So what would happen if they found out who I really am?”
“I would probably go insane. It’s an act that hurts their pride to fall in love with someone who has mistreated you so much. The love affair will fizzle out and be converted into anger and even murderous intent toward Shota-san.”
It would be a kind of inverted antagonism in common parlance.
It may sound like a joke, but it is possible.
If that happened, I would won’t be able to live a peaceful life, but I would be on the receiving end of a bounty. It is possible that I will be hunted down to the point where I will be forced to change schools again.
“I will cooperate with you. I’ll help you in any way I can so that your true identity won’t be revealed.”
“Are you sure you want to help me?”
“Yes, I’m being sincere.”
“….But maybe they won’t find out. Things have been fine up to this point.”
I was able to live for a semester without anyone finding out. I got a little closer during the summer break, but even then they didn’t know who I was.
“That carelessness is where we are now, you know?”
That’s for sure. I’m in this situation because I was careless. I let my guard down because no one found out about me.
“There are numerous events in the second semester. There is the ball game tournament, the sports festival, and the biggest event at Tenkain Academy, the Tenka Festival.
The Tenka Festival is Tenkain Academy’s cultural festival, and its centerpiece event is the Tenka Contest, a vote to choose a god.
“If these girls are in love with Shota-san, then there will be a lot of contact. The more contact there is, the higher the risk of them discovering your true identity.”
The second semester is full of events. It would be dangerous to let one’s guard down.
Shirase is probably right.
But I still couldn’t believe it because of the past incident. There was no hint that she was in love with me.
“….I’d like to see some proof.”
“That she likes me is just situational evidence and Shirase’s idea.”
The distance may be close, but I can’t tell if it’s even romantic.
“This is a difficult question. If you ask her directly, she will probably ignore you, and it’s not like Shota-san can ask her.”
“Hopefully you can meet her after school”
“…… Speaking of which, Akazawa is supposed to come the day after tomorrow.”
Informing Shirase about the summer festival the other day.
“Then we can get her true feelings out of her there.”
“Does that mean Shirase is coming too?”
“To be honest, it would be very helpful. She’s my childhood friend even if she’s rotten, and there’s the highest possibility that she’ll find out by some chance.”
“Then leave it to me.”
At this point, I had no choice but to trust Shirase.
Or rather, once Shirase found out, there was no other choice but to trust her. It will be over when Shirase leaks it to them, and there is no point in worrying about it now.
“But is it okay? You two don’t get along, right?”
“I’ve been wondering about this myself. Why does she hate me? I thought I would take this opportunity to ask her. If it’s in the house, there’s no way out, right?”
That’s true too. Shirase herself must have been curious about it.
“…… Just why did you suddenly decide to get in touch with me?”
What’s wrong with you all of a sudden, if you never asked me before?
“I say I feel better now that I was able to apologize to Shota-san, but I feel so much clearer now. To be honest, I had mixed feelings toward Kanon-san. Perhaps the reason I came here today is because I wanted to complain to her brother, Shota-san. However, I found out that you are Shota Mukawa. I also understood that you care about Kanon-san. I have come to terms with my own feelings, and I think I should move on.”
At that moment, I heard the front door open.
I looked at my watch and saw that the time was still before evening. She said she didn’t want dinner, so it was too early for Kanon to come home.
While I was thinking this, I heard the sound of someone going up the stairs. After that, the door suddenly opened without knocking.
“I’m home. I need to talk to you about something.”
“I’m sorry to bother you. …… eh sis?”
Kanon and Yakumo-kun were standing there.