“I’m counting on you, Kokonoe.”
“Seriously, I can’t do it.”
I was called into the teacher’s office and given a printout of an assignment by my homeroom teacher. It was for Suzurikawa, not mine.
“You have free time after school anyway, so you can work that much. You guys are in the same junior high school, so you must be close.”
Two days off is a fair amount. But that doesn’t seem to be the reason I was called here.
“Please do me a favor. I understand the situation to some extent, but you are the only person that Suzurikawa is actively talking to, and I don’t think it can go on like this. If the situation persists, I will of course take care of it.”
The opinion of Sayuri-sensei was the most reasonable, but even so, I did not nod my head in agreement.
“It is impossible for me to do something even if you say so.”
“Why are you so adamant in your refusal? I don’t know about your relationship, but is there a reason for it?”
“I’m banned from the Suzurikawa’s house.”
Yes, that’s right. I was banned by Akane, Hinagi’s mother, when I was in the eighth grade. In the past, there were some family exchanges, but now she has flatly refused me, telling me not to come back. Even with this, I used to be invited to Christmas, but now it’s a nostalgic memory. So, as much as I’d like to do the teacher a favor, it’s realistically difficult. I swear, okay?
“What did you do, you ……?”
“It’s a difference of opinion.”
The reason I was banned was because I didn’t live up to Akane’s expectations.
And neither Hinagi nor her sister, Hiori, knew about it. It was a secret between me and Akane-san.
“Aah mou! It is only a meeting. I don’t know what you did that got you banned, but at this point, go apologize. And while you’re at it, go talk to Suzurikawa and see what she has to say. Here, let me buy you a cup of coffee.”
The teacher pushed a piece of printout in my face. I was paid off with 100 yen. Sensei, you’re ten yen short.
I came here with a bad feeling. That selfish teacher.
“I haven’t been here for two years.”
I stopped in front of the entrance with the nameplate “Suzurikawa” on it. The last time I went back here, I had to turn around and go back.
I don’t like it,……, I don’t know what to do. I’m not at all interested in it, to be honest. I might as well just shove it in the mailbox and go home. No? Please, I press the chime, hoping that Hinagi will answer.
“…… Yes. Who is it?”
As soon as I saw who opened the door, I got down on my knees. When it comes to this, the first move is the only one that counts. I will push through with force!
“It’s been a while, Akane-san! You look so beautiful today, too. No, it’s not that. I refuse. However, I only came here because my homeroom teacher insisted on it, and I did not neglect my promise to Akane-san. I am fine. I will make sure that this kind of thing will not happen in the future. So, please forgive me for this one time. And you are always so beautiful. Ah, this is an assignment for school and an assortment of jellies. My classmates are worried about her. Well, the crows are cawing now, so I’m going home.”
That’s strange, I can’t move forward? I greeted her and hurried to retreat, but she gripped me from behind by the collar of my uniform. I fearfully turned around. Akane-san was smiling, but there were blue streaks floating on her face.
“What are you doing?”
“I-I thought I might be disturbing you if I stayed too long. ……”
She seemed to be angry. I tried to flirt with her a little, but it had no effect.
Akane is young. At a quick glance, she looks like the eldest of the three Suzuriakwa sisters, but she is an admirable mother who cares about her daughter. It was only natural that I was banned.
“You know, …….Haa. At any rate, I appreciate you bringing it. Thank you. But still—–I wasn’t expecting you.”
“Me neither. I’m really sorry, I think it’s just for today.”
Once again, I bow deeply. I’ve made her feel bad. Suddenly, Akane-san’s eyes sharpened.
“Was it your intention to come here?”
“No. As I said before, I was forced by my homeroom teacher to come here. All I did was say no properly. I had no intention of coming. That was the deal.”
“………I see. I guess you don’t want to come after all.”
“……–Why are you! ……No, it’s nothing. I’m sure she’ll be fine tomorrow. Next time she takes a day off or something, you don’t have to bring it.”
“Thank you for your time.”
Akane-san’s expression distorts for a moment, then quickly returns. This is good. I cannot be antagonistic.
Silently, the front door closed without being seen off.
[Hinagi’s Mom PoV]
I feel the urge to vent my outrage. Hateful things haven’t changed.
It’s ridiculous. The promises never existed. I know that.
If he had told me that he had come to see me for my daughter’s sake, or because he was worried about her, I would have welcomed him with open arms. I could have invited him to dinner and had a nice conversation with him.
I was really happy that he came today. I was sure he would be fine.
And yet… It wasn’t his own choice? Is that really true? He was such a good friend to her, but he doesn’t think anything of it? I don’t know. I don’t know what he’s really thinking.
There is no doubt that my daughter is at fault. It doesn’t help that she got what she deserved as a result.
That’s why I wanted him to tell me. I wanted him to say that he would save her next time, that he would protect her, and that he would never let go of her hand again.
Even if it was the parent’s ego, I wanted to hear it from his own mouth. Perhaps I wanted to be reassured. I asked him a question as if testing him, and he accepted my request without any rebuttal and gave up on everything.
After that, he never came to this house again. Just as I had said.
Hinagi, who had recently been getting brighter and brighter, was not feeling well and was shut up in her room. Finally, she started to smile. I thought things had blown over. Just then.
“–Oh, wait! Hiori.”
Perhaps noticing him, Hiori slips aside and runs out.
Not good. If Hiori finds out that I told Yukito not to come to my house, she will be furious.
I think Hinagi is with me on that, but the sisters’ quarrel is smoldering in a lull. It might ignite again. At that time, Hinagi was scared. Even my husband, who was trying to calm her down, was dismayed because he didn’t know what to do. I pressed my forehead against the dull pain. It was a very troublesome thing.
It seems that everyone in this house, including me, is somehow concerned about him, who looks so familiar to me as a young child.
“Is that you, Hiori-chan?”
For a moment, the figure I caught in my field of vision as I turned around looked like Hinagi Suzurikawa.
But it couldn’t be. There is only one person who calls me Onii-chan.
The younger sister of Suzurikawa, Hiori Suzurikawa, who came running to me, hugged me. She is a beautiful girl with a strong resemblance to Akane-san, but she is not in 2P color, and she is full of her own charm. Yet, she still retains the innocence of a junior high school student.
“I missed you, Onii-chan!”
“It’s been a long time. I’ll give you candy canes.”
The neighborhood auntie system. I took the candy out of my pocket and handed it to Hiori-chan.
“Have you been chasing me?”
“Yes. I felt Onii-chan’s presence.”
“Are you a martial arts expert?”
Something like a martial arts master. ……….. What presence?
” Are you visiting my sister? Why didn’t you come to her room?”
“I can’t go into a girl’s room. Besides, I just brought a school assignment.”
I’m not going to mention the fact that I’m banned from the house. I think Hiori-chan is going to get angry.
“If it’s Onii-chan, you’re always welcome, you know?”
Eventhough we are on the street, albeit a small one. Please don’t hug me.
“Ah, that’s right. Hiori-chan, are you in a fight with Hinagi?”
“Eh,……, ah, yes,……. Haha. Did you ask my sister about it?”
“I heard she was worried about it.”
‘It’s my sister’s fault, she deserved it. –and I still can’t forgive her.”
Hiori’s expression, which had been smiling, darkens.
And that’s not all. She seems to be suffering again.
“Yes, since yesterday, she hasn’t come out of her room. Do you know anything about that, Onii-chan?”
“I can predict. Probably.”
Hiori’s hug became tighter and tighter.
“You know. I think my sister is the worst. She’s an idiot, really. But, Onii-chan. Will you help her? You’re the only one I can trust. I just want you to look at her one more time.”
“I don’t think that’s what she wants.”
“Why? That can’t be true. Onee-chan has always waited for Onii-chan. Because Onee-chan has always been Onii-chan’s…..”
Her serious gaze shot through me. Come to think of it, she said the same thing.
And I denied her words—- let just hear her out.
“Of course, me too you know?”
She is a little devil. The straightforward Hiori-chan may be a much more formidable foe than her older sister.
Aah mou, no choice! The only reason I did this was because Hiori-chan asked me to do it. I’m such a kind Onii-chan.
After taking a bath and finishing my studies, I check the clock. It was too early to go to bed, and Suzurikawa should be awake too.
I made up my mind to call him. I never thought I would have to call him twice in such a short period of time.
Unexpectedly, the connection is immediately through the line, although I had heard that he was in a quiet mood.
But from the sound of her voice, she’s terribly tired. My mentality is stronger than adamantite, but not everyone can be like that. It is normal to feel shocked, depressed, and exhausted after being exposed to bare malice like that.
“You need help right now. Are we clear?”
[“…… Eh? What are you ….”]
“I’ll be straight to the point. I’m going to get this sorted out in a week. So come to school tomorrow.”
[“Why …… Yukito …… why are doing this?”]
“I told you before, Suzurikawa. If you are in trouble, if you need help, you have to tell me. Don’t take everything on yourself. You have family and friends. Everyone is worried about you.”
The tone of her voice lowers and sobs begin to mingle with her voice.
[“I don’t know why I’m doing this ……. I made up my mind. I decided that this time I wouldn’t make a mistake…….”]
I just listen silently to the words that begin to spill out.
[“The other day he confessed to me. I …… but I turned him down properly ……. I didn’t want to betray myself again. …… I wanted to be strong. To be able to stand next to you without pretending, to be able to support you. I wanted to be with you. And yet……”]
Suzurikawa reveals the feelings she has been harboring.
The thoughts begin to turn to the exposed emotions as they are.
[“Can I ask you one question?”]
[“If …… I am what the rumors say I am, will you still help me, Yukito?”]
“Does it matter?”
Wishes don’t come true and hopes don’t bear fruit.
It is always that repetitive, and I gave up seeking something.
Still, if someone wanted me, I should at least be willing to comply.
I wanted to believe that I was worth that much.
[” …….I hate it. I don’t like being looked at like that anymore. I don’t want to be tied to the past…….I don’t want to be away from Yukito. I don’t want to be the fake me! I will be strong. Watch me. So, please. For the last time,…… I’ll end my weakness. That’s why one more time……Yu-chan”]
She gasped for breath. As if to say —- she released the words.
“Get yourself in shape and get some sleep.”
I hang up the phone. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.
It was strange. I had always thought that we would never cross paths again.
Ever since the moment she shook my hand that day.
[Third person PoV]
“This cannot be true!”
“How terrible …… For Yuki to do this …….”
Mihou was indignant. But it was not only Mihou.
The whole class is frowning in unison. The expression on the face of Hinagi Suzurikawa, who was also involved in the incident, was completely blue.
It was last night that the accusation was circulated.
They rushes to contact him, but receives no reply. The same is true of the case against Suzurikawa, but it is indeed unforgivable. The viciousness was beyond the limit. No matter what it takes, they will cooperate with him and find the culprit.
As Mihou firmly vows to do so, the person in the middle of all this arrives at school, looking as usual aloof and unperturbed as ever. Whether he knows or not, it is impossible to read from his expressionless face.
“Yukito! Look at this.”
A number of students gather around Yukito Kokonoe. Yukito froze at the screen shown to him.
“Look, this was messaged to me yesterday. This is absolutely unforgivable! I can’t believe they did to Kokonoe-chan!”
“What are you going to do about it, Yukito? Do you want to talk to the teacher?”
No one believed it. It’s too ridiculous.
—-Yukito Kokonoe spreading the Suzurikawa hoax.
It was a shocking accusation. When he was in junior high school, he spread a false rumour about what had happened to him because he was angry at being rejected by Hinagi Suzurikawa. The whole slander and hatred against his childhood friend was the work of Yukito Kokonoe.
Not only that. —-Yukito Kokonoe was insulated by his sister, Yuri Kokonoe.
Sensationalist words leapt to the surface. It was nothing but malice itself.
It is a despicable and blasphemous method that only seeks to bring down the person Yukito Kokonoe.
Its credibility is not even worth mentioning. Because it is nothing more than a very poor lie.
Obvious, vulgar gossip that can’t even keep up appearances.
“Yukito …… no …… why …… this, this is not how—–!”
The red-eyed Hinagi Suzurikawa approaches the Yukito Kokonoe, dizzy, perhaps from tears and swelling.
There is no one in this class who doesn’t know that Suzurikawa has feelings for Yukito Kokonoe. That is why they cannot tolerate false rumours that tear them apart.
They have to move immediately. No one would keep quiet after having gone to such lengths.
This was the general consensus, and no one took the accusations seriously.
“W-why is this…. No! I didn’t do it!”
“W-what’s the matter, Yukito?”
The unfamiliar and dismayed appearance of Yukito caused a murmur to spread out like a wave.
“Yukito, no! This is not what I–! “
“Believe me, Suzurikawa! I didn’t do this!”
Interrupting Suruzikawa’s words, Yukito Kokonoe runs out of the classroom as if to escape.
He disappears, brushing aside a few onlookers who were watching him from afar in the corridor.
As they followed the scene with their eyes, Mihou was annoyed by a feeling of discomfort that he could not shake off.
“That idiot ……, What are we going to do now?”
“I’ve never seen Yuki like that …….”
“Kokonoe-chan was shocked, wasn’t he?”
“I see! That’s it, Mineda!”
The nature of the discomfort. Mihou notices this and turns to Suzurikawa.
“That man with the strongest mentality who doesn’t look at social networking sites at all shouldn’t be shocked. What a whitewashed imitation. Isn’t that right, Suzurikawa?”
The question made her body tremble.
At this moment, only Hinagi Suzurikawa was aware of this. What Yukito Kokonoe is trying to do.
She clenched her fists tightly. When she thought about it, all her life, she had only been protected.
(…… Yukito, you told me. You told me not to hold it all by myself —– to rely on everyone else. I’m sorry. Because of me, you are suffering so much. But I can’t let Yukito be the only one who has to deal with it. ……)
She asked him to help her. Such weakness on her part disgusts her. By taking advantage of his kindness, she is only using him in a one-sided way. It makes her angry at her own inadequacy in letting him take such measures.
Even Hinagi Suzurikawa did not fully understand. However, there are still things that she does understand.
The writings contained facts known only to Hinagi Suzurikawa and Yukito Kokonoe.
Hesitation. It would destroy what Yukito Kokonoe was trying to do for her own sake.
To do nothing is to deny even such resolve. And yet -.
(…… I will be strong. I’ve learnt my lesson. I can’t let the past haunt me, I can’t accept it.)
That is why she tells herself, It’s going to be okay. He’s well-liked by everyone.
“I’m sorry, guys. I want you to listen to me.”
That is the determination of Hinagi Suzurikawa.
The girl who kept making mistakes is the glimmer of will to reach out to get back.
She continued to regret and repent. She kept wishing to return.
Finally, she arrived at a realisation. Instead of going back, she said, she had to go on.
The whole class froze when the truth was told.
Yukito Kokonoe is a celebrity on campus. His fame is incomparable to that of Hinagi Suzurikawa
Even just recently, his name was widely known. The situation spread quickly.