Kaede was filming in a special event.
Kaede was invited to be a guest on a gourmet food program ……, and the program had a section where Kaede introduced some of the best hidden restaurants in her hometown.
So Kaede visits her old favorite local ramen shop. The restaurant was crowded with the unexpected appearance of a big-name actress, and Kaede responded to the cheers with a wave of her hand.
Many months have passed since then, and Kaede has grown up mentally. She no longer looks down on her peers or disrespects her fans.
The only flaw in her character that was said to be difficult to deal with has disappeared, and her popularity is climbing higher and higher.
Sayaka, who visited the restaurant with Kaede, slurps her ramen at the same time as the staff calls out. Sayaka was looking forward to today’s shoot because she had heard that Kaede liked this restaurant.
A gourmet report while being filmed by the camera. Kaede is used to eating in front of the camera. The problem, therefore, was Sayaka, who was reporting for the first time.
“Mm~mm~!! It’s so delicious! The noodles taste so good, and the soup is delicious too! …… The roasted pork is soft and chewy, and the whole thing is delicious! And it’s slightly spicy!”
…… No, it’s too egregious.
And since it’s a live broadcast, it can’t be edited. …… Well, it’ll be okay if she follows up with her later.
“……Okay! —Well, Sayaka! The studio was laughing out loud!”
“Thank you! —-I did it! Kaede!”
After the shoot, I walk outside the noodle shop to get away from distractions. It had been a while since I had been back to my hometown, so my manager was considerate enough to give me some free time.
I visit the bookstore I used to frequent.
In addition to being in disguise, I don’t make a fuss because no one would expect a celebrity to be walking around such a place.
These days I have many more opportunities to talk to people.
Of course, I have changed my thinking.
And it was because I was blessed with ‘people’ that I was able to change my thinking. I thought Mom only cared about Ryosuke, but …… that’s not true, she talked to me all the time to make me reflect and was there for me when I was down.
Nagisa was also very angry about the Ryosuke incident, but she didn’t cut me off, saying “I don’t want to make another mistake like I did with Onii-chan”
Ruiko also …… says I’m her best friend, even though I treated her so badly. I hear she works at a small mental hospital now.
In order to truly deal with Ryosuke’s illness and to keep her own mistakes in her heart, Ruiko is on her way to becoming a psychiatrist.
“Now I understand …… Ryosuke’s feelings. ……”
Ryosuke cherished Mom, Mai Nakazato, and the others as if they were his treasures. I didn’t try to understand it at the time, but when I am so weak that I am about to die, it is a real relief to have someone who is sincerely there for me, and I want to cherish such an existence.
Sayaka…… is also now a source of emotional support for me, though I hate to admit it. Unlike me, she doesn’t have a flip side. Instead, she’s a bit of an airhead, but it’s rare in the entertainment industry for someone to be that straight-laced.
That’s why….. I just can’t stop thinking about it.
I can’t tell her how many times I helped her out of her many mistakes.
The company president is also to blame for assigning Sayaka a job that is not in her size, but mistakes like getting the name of a veteran wrong or getting the meeting place of a location wrong are pretty much a given.
While walking down the sidewalk thinking, I arrived at an unfamiliar wedding hall. It’s a beautiful building that was recently built.
I didn’t know there was a wedding hall in a place like this…speaking of……, is Ryosuke living happily with Mai Nakazato? Well, I’m sure it will be fine, she won’t …… make Ryosuke sad.
I had come a long way, by the way.
I turned on my heel and headed back to the hotel where I was staying. The angle was not good enough to see it earlier, but from the direction I was heading back, I could see the welcome board at the entrance.
“Is this what a wedding is like ……”
I was intrigued by the welcome board with the bride and groom’s pictures and names, and I casually followed the sign with my eyes.
Then, my walking feet stopped. I was glued to the board.
Because I recognized the two people in the photo.
No, one of them was …… the groom, he was the man I have never forgotten — the man I hurt more than anyone else and loved more than anyone else.
Why are they having a wedding at this time? And all this at a place I just passed by! The wedding was supposed to have taken place six months ago!
Today’s photo shoot was a coincidence, and the fact that I ended up in this place was also a coincidence! I didn’t receive an invitation at the time, I didn’t look inside it, so I didn’t know the venue or the date and time of the wedding. ……!
“Why this ……!”
Even though I really didn’t intend to meet him ……, when I saw Ryosuke in the picture, I felt a desire to meet him from deep in my heart.
Inside this building is Ryosuke,…… and when I think of that, the things I’ve held back until now overflow…… but as soon as I realize he’s within reach, I want to reach out to him. I was tempted to reach out to his presence.
….How much of Ryosuke’s luck has really been abandoned …… Such a coincidence is impossible. The wheels of fate that surround him have been made to be cruel to him.
I can’t believe I’ve given up on him, but it even ignited a fire in my heart. ……What should I do ……I really miss him.
…… I stood there, unable to move from in front of the board. But I can’t go see him. I couldn’t let my appearance ruin the wedding…
While I was conflicted, Ryosuke came out from inside the ceremony hall.
The person I’ve always wanted to meet,…… my brother whom I’ve wanted to meet for years,…….but couldn’t……..
Now he’s right in front of me.
My beloved one, who used to be by my side all the time, but now I can only see him in my dreams and imagination. He was walking right there as a …… real existence.
Ryosuke entered the smoking area,…… a little distance away, if he walked a little bit, I could touch him if he came close enough.
Moreover, there was no one around.
There is nothing that stands in the way of me and Ryosuke.
I followed Ryosuke into the smoking area as if I was being sucked in.
I was doing that before I knew it.
I knew in my head that I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t suppress the feelings I had loved for so many years.
That’s why I didn’t want to see him.
I knew this would happen.
Mom thinks everything is fine now, but even though we are parent and child, she and I are different people, so she can’t understand my personal feelings.
Even though it seemed fine to Mom, I refused to participate in the wedding because I knew it was not fine with me.
I realized that no matter how much I regretted it, once I actually met him, my feelings would never stop. That’s why I’ve been avoiding Ryosuke for so long. …… Why is this happening?
(Oh …… My beloved Ryosuke is by my side.)
I had already given up.
(But he’s close by).
And there is no one around.
At least if someone would stop me,…… I wish someone would stop my legs just for now.
But …… such a wish never came true and I arrived at the smoking area.
He’s within my reach if I stretch out my hand.
I couldn’t help but want to touch him.
I reached out and tried to touch Ryosuke’s cheek.
That’s when I noticed something was wrong with Ryosuke.
When I try to touch him, that is all it takes for Ryosuke’s shoulders to shake. I hadn’t even touched him yet, but just by feeling the presence of my approaching fingertips, my cute little brother’s expression darkened.
Ryosuke, who cannot recognize me, did so the moment I tried to touch him.
I don’t know if he is aware of this ……, but I couldn’t touch Ryosuke making this kind of face.
The little reason that was left in me …… held me back, saying that if I wanted to touch him, neither I nor Ryosuke would be able to go back.
Then I understood that I really couldn’t anymore.
After several years, this reaction would not help.
The unseemly unresolved feelings that had been swirling somewhere in my heart disappeared without a trace.
(Aah …… it’s really time to say goodbye Ryosuke …… I’ll leave you for good this time, my sweet Ryosuke whom I loved the most in this world.)
I didn’t cry even though it was a very sad goodbye. I have no right to cry, and even if you can’t see me…… I can’t show my incompetence in front of Ryosuke anymore.
So I hold back my tears.
……But as his sister I had one last thing to do.
I took the cigarette my brother had in his mouth and dumped it in the ashtray. He didn’t know how to light it, and today would be his first time smoking.
Surely someone had given it to him in a drunken stupor?
So while I’m at it, let’s use the fear that is me to make him lose interest in cigarettes.
That’s the last meddling I can do.
I’m sure Ryosuke will be fine, but if by any chance he becomes addicted, I’ll feel bad for Mai Nakazato, okay?
And it’s expensive too,……, so there’s nothing better than not smoking.
“I’m sorry I ever hurt you.”
I said a few words of apology, but still no response from Ryosuke…….I still kept talking.
This would be the last time I will ever talk to him.
“I really wanted to apologize in the end. You probably can’t hear me.”
I bowed deeply to him.
He was staring up at the ceiling in a daze, but after a few moments he started to move to leave the smoking area.
“I should probably get back.”
“I see…… that’s more like it.”
There will be a lot of people at the wedding party on his side.
They will make him happy. I think everyone loves Ryosuke, so I’m sorry …… for hurting you a lot.
Good luck, Ryosuke.
What did Ryosuke think? Ryosuke lights up a cigarette once again. Ryosuke hates to lose. …… Yeah, Ryosuke is a strong man who can’t lose to anyone.
I take up the cigarette once again.
Consider it a suggestion from heaven that he should live a life free of cigarettes.
“Your health is the best thing above all.”
Ryosuke finally opens the door to the smoking room and leaves. It’s nice to see him, even if it’s the last time I’ll see him in the smoking room.
“I won’t come to see you anymore,……I’m sorry I’ve hurt you so much,……Please be well,………”
Ryosuke stopped midway and looked back at me.
Why are you crying…… even though it’s a happy event… …… please don’t cry, Ryosuke……….
I shed tears as well.
I was trying to hold back, but I couldn’t bear to see Ryosuke’s crying face. I was standing there, unable to move.
“—I wish you nothing but happiness.”
That was all I could manage to squeeze out.
I watched Ryosuke enter the ceremony hall and then left.
As I was leaving, I caught a whiff of smoke from the cigarette that Ryosuke had lit for a moment.
“……… Mai Nakazato, huh”
Mai Nakazato approached me as I was leaving. It seemed that she had watched me from somewhere. But I couldn’t understand why she was calling out to me.
I can understand if she wants to shout at me …… but why is she looking at me with a sad look on her face?
After hurting Mai Nakazato and Ryosuke for so many years,…… it should be funny and refreshing to see me shed tears and walk away. ……
“…… Kaede-san,…… I’ve …… always wanted to be friends with Kaede-san,……”
“I see…… I’m sorry.”
She is a sweet girl.
Does she have any idea how many times I’ve hurt her? I’ve never been nice to her, not even once, and yet she wanted to be friends with me?
“Oh, don’t mind it —- I just laughed because I felt the same way.”
For the first time, Mai Nakazato made a happy expression toward me. I have never seen this look on her face before.
I guess Ryosuke was saved because she has such a personality because of you.
I slowly approached her and gently hugged her. She was very surprised, not expecting me to do so, but gradually she accepted it.
She put her hands on my back and leaned her body against me.
“Thank you for protecting Ryosuke from me. You can make Ryosuke happy……. I guarantee it. Because you are the best woman in the world.”
A woman who had never acknowledged her before, no matter what, acknowledged her for the first time at Ryosuke’s wedding…… and, on the contrary, she refers to Mai as “the best woman in the world” in spite of her own great success in the entertainment industry.
Mai couldn’t stop crying any longer.
She was happy, so happy.
Like Ryosuke, Mai had always thought Kaede was cool and had always admired her.
She had given up on the idea of ever becoming friends with Kaede, and now her dream had finally come true.
Mai sobbed and sobbed.
“I wish you and Ryosuke …… would stop making crying faces at the end of the day,…… and at least smile you have to smile, Mai”
“……Guzu……Yes………For the first time, you called me just by my name. ……It was Mai Nakazato all along.”
“Haha,…… it’s true,…… if only I had realized how good you are earlier.”
“………I’m glad to hear you say so, Kaede-san.”
“…..I’m sorry for the pain I caused you the other day,…… please forgive me.”
“I’ll forgive you ……. I mean, I don’t care about that old stuff,…… hehehe~.”
“I see…… take good care of Ryosuke, okay?”
“Yes,……, I’ll take care of him, Kaede.”
“……… see you later.”
“………Yes, see you next time!”
I patted Mai’s back gently for the last time and slowly backed away from her.
I hope she doesn’t mind. …… I’m surprised that she still forgives me, even though she was aware that I did some really terrible things …….
I leave the place with Mai seeing me off.
“Thank you, Mai,……, it was nice to meet you.”
I wonder if Mai is aware of this?
That she saved not only Ryosuke’s heart, but also the heart of a lowly woman like me. ……
I looked back at the ceremony for the last time.