TL: Normal chapter today, tomorrow sponsored chapter.
The gymnasium was filled with people who had heard of the commotion, a crowd of spectators had formed. I decided to ignore them when I heard something like, “So that’s the rumored—”. I wondered if they were expecting an event that had just popped up in their daily lives. I would like to pretend to be a bystander like them. The problem is that I’m the one at the center of this commotion. Excuse me, can I go home? At the center of the commotion, the one shouting for me to go home is me, Yukito Kokonoe.
I don’t understand why I, a homecoming club member, am in this situation right now. My memory has been uninstalled. Our opponents were three third-year students who are in the regular basketball team. Depending on the point of view, the opposition team of three freshmen including me could be seen as cocky underclassmen defying their senpais. Even though i just want to live peacefully…..
In case you’re wondering, it’s a 3 on 3 is a 10-minute game with two 5-minute periods. Although it has gathered a lots of people, a 3 vs 3 match will just be over quite fast. There is no strategy, as there are no specific positions.
“So, if we win, you guys will join the basketball team, right?” (Himura)
“What do you mean by “yeah”!? Don’t decide on your own, please. Aren’t you senpais too immature?” (Yuki)
“I don’t even think we will win! If we were that confident in our basketball team, I wouldn’t have invited you.” (Himura)
“Then, if we win, the basketball team will be disbanded.” (Yuki)
“That’s, that’s , that’s…..!” (Himura)
The seniors were heartbroken. It made no sense. There’s no way any third-year students would assume to lose to a freshmen. Let alone a basketball club member Ito-kun, I don’t know how well this refreshing handsome guy could play.
“And I don’t have any motivation, so I honestly don’t care if we win or lose.……” (Yuki)
“Yukito let’s win this!” (Miho)
“You guys, even though they look like that, they’re still regulars you know?” (Yuki)
For some reason, this fresh-looking guy smirked.
“We’ll win. There’s no way we would lose. Right, Yukito?” (Miho)
“Where do you get your confidence from?” (Yuki)
I never thought I’d have the chance to play basketball at school again, but you never know how the world will turn out. When I took a quick glance, I could find nee-san between the crowd of spectators. I wondered if she came here to see the commotion. I’m sure she came to see if I was going to cause any problems. For her, I’m probably nothing but a troublesome person. No, I’m sure it’s the same for everyone.
When I was in junior high school, I played basketball not for anyone else, but simply for myself. Looking back on it now, I was just using basketball to shake off the shock of a broken heart. I didn’t care about the team’s victory or my friends in the club. That’s why I was playing basketball. I had no interest in that or my team. That’s why I was always practicing by myself. I wasn’t practicing to get better, I just wanted to move my body.
After the summer of my sophomore year, there was someone who strangely started talking to me.
That person was Shiori Kamishiro, and she was the one who had tried to lie to me.
[Shiori Kamishiro POV]
“What? Weren’t you here last week?” (Shiori)
Saturday. I saw him practicing on the free court in the park. I think he was a member of the men’s basketball team. It was the second time I had seen him here. I remembered seeing him practicing alone at the same time last week, in the same place. I didn’t pay any attention to him at that time, but perhaps it was because I was also a female basketball player, but I felt strangely attracted to him the second time I saw him. A presence that seemed to draw me in. But somehow the atmosphere was so strange and he was just so desperate.
The third time would soon come. For the first time, I decided to take a proper look at him at school. Even though we were both on the basketball team, we had never had much contact or talked to each other. I wondered what kind of person he was. He even practices on his days off. He’s a dedicated player, isn’t he?
That was my first impression. He’s not like me, who’s not that passionate about club activities. The men’s basketball team is not that strong either. So how can he work so hard? I became interested in him and began to follow him with my eyes.
Maybe that was a mistake. When I finally began to pay attention to him and watch him, his abnormality stood out. He practiced in the morning, after school, and at night, not with anyone, but alone. It was too unnatural to train alone for a team sport like basketball. What good would it do if he was the only one practicing? There’s no point If the team doesn’t get stronger too! He is an idiot.…… On the other hand, somewhere in her heart, she may have felt dazzled by his appearance.
He was becoming more and more prominent. It’s no wonder, considering all the effort he has put in. The members of the men’s basketball team were bewildered by his actions. They didn’t know how to treat him. There was a clear difference in their attitude toward club activities. They were doing it for fun, but they felt something wrong with the fact that there was only one serious person in the group. But he doesn’t care about any of it, even if he is exposed to such an atmosphere and he did not ask others to make the same effort as him. Today, he continues to practice by himself.
I was so curious that I finally spoke to him.
“Hey… Why do you work so hard?” (Shiori)
When I spoke to him, he was just an ordinary male student. No, that’s what I thought at the time. He was very easy to talk to and a very kind person. Apparently, I’m very popular, even though I look like this. I’ve even been confessed to several times. I’m tall, and my breasts have grown quite a bit. I knew that I was well-developed. I could feel the boys’ gazes piercing my body.
But he was different. He didn’t look at me like that at all. On the contrary, I wondered if he even recognized me. I wondered if he was even interested in me. In any case, his awareness of others was so weak that it made me feel that way.
I wondered what I was seeing in his eyes. They were so deep, dark and stagnant that I couldn’t help but think about that. He was looking at something very coldly. In spite of the fear in his eyes, his attitude and words were always kind. There was something unbalanced and strange about him that I couldn’t leave alone. That was Yukito Kokonoe.
He had become a reliable friend to me. An important friend of the opposite sex. It didn’t take long for me to see that he was more than that. I began to call him Yuki, and he began to call me Shiori. I asked him to call me that.
In the fall tournament of my second year, the men’s basketball team defeated a strong school and made it to the top 16 of the prefectural tournament. It was a great accomplishment. The men’s basketball team, which usually loses in the first or second round of the regional tournament, made it to the prefectural tournament. He received an award from the school as well. It was almost a great achievement for him. But basketball is a team sport. No matter how great he is by himself, there is a limit. But this result will change the mindset of the boys.
If we become better, we can aim for a higher level. Such hope was beginning to emerge in the men’s basketball team. If we improve ourselves, we might be able to get better results. At some point, the boys began to devote themselves seriously to basketball with a completely different attitude.
He had single-handedly changed the basketball team.
He didn’t say anything on his own. He didn’t force anyone to do anything. He changed the people around him just by his own actions.
He was a classmate and a good friend.
At the same time, I had a strong admiration for his influence and his strength.
And the enthusiasm and aftermath was gradually spreading to the women’s basketball team. They began to practice more seriously than before. Around this time, more and more people around me started to pay attention to him. Some of the members were looking at him enthusiastically. Of course. He was good-looking. He has such a strong glow and an inexplicable darkness, I can’t help but notice him.
I felt a little superior, but at the same time, I began to feel uneasy. I was still too young to understand what those feelings were. I had been exercising all my life, and I was too inexperienced to know that it was love.
My relationship with him continued till a certain point. By that time, I was already in love with him. I was so excited that I was clearly aware that it was love. I enjoy talking with him. I want to be with him. Such feelings swelled up in me.
And finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I told him. But I didn’t expect it to turn out like that. …… From that day on, my regret began. I should not have told him. I should have been more honest with him, I should have been more honest with myself.
“Yuki, you know what? There’s something I want you to hear today…….” (Shiori)
“What’s wrong, Shiori?” (Yuki)
It was getting dark outside. Yuki spends his after-school hours practicing until the last minute. By the time he left, the sun was going down. I choose to wait for Yuki and go home with him. When he saw how nervous I was, he didn’t say anything in particular, but gently encouraged me as usual.
“I like you, Yuki!” (Shiori)
His eyes wavered slightly. He looked surprised. I think it was the first time I saw it, it was rare for me to see his emotions. I’ve never seen him show it. All I knew of him was his usual gentle demeanor or the way he threw himself into club activities to the point of exhaustion alone. So, the sight of him filled my heart with joy. I thought that even I could convey something to him. I stared into Yuki’s eyes as I waited for him to say something.
“I’m sorry. Shiori, can you wait until after the tournament to answer?” (Yuki)
“Yes, it’s…… It’s your last tournament, right?” (Shiori)
The answer was unexpected. Whether I liked it or not, I was going to accept it either way. I thought I had the courage and determination to confess my feelings. But what came back to me was the third option, which was neither of the two. It was “wait”.
Thinking about it, for Yuki, who had devoted himself so much to club activities, the final competition of his junior year was a milestone. It must have been very emotional for him. The other members of the team are now looking forward to the tournament. They are eager to show off their abilities. I can understand why they want to concentrate on that for now.
“Will you answer me when it’s over?” (Shiori)
“I will.” (Yuki)
“……Okay, I will wait... I don’t want to be sad when I hear your response!” (Shiori)
I couldn’t stand the awkwardness and embarrassment anymore, so I just told him that and ran off. Somehow, the chance of getting a good answer was high, i’m holding such hope somewhere in my heart.
If Yuki didn’t like me, if he didn’t care about me, he could just tell me right here and now. There was no reason to hold off. And yet, he asked me to wait until the tournament. I’m sure that’s the time Yuki needs in order to face me.
If that was the case, Yuki would surely give me the answer I wanted. With a bouncy feeling, I started running towards home.
Some time later, I was being questioned by my friends in front of the women’s restroom. 3 of us are in different classes, but we have been friends since elementary school and we are still close. Apparently, i’ve been acting weird recently. They asked me with a grin, thinking that there must be something wrong with me.
“Shiori, did you confess your feelings to Kokonoe?” (Friend A)
“What? Why? There’s nothing…!” (Shiori)
“Then why are you in such a panic?” (Friend A)
“You’re showing too much emotion. Kokonoe, on the other hand, has a poker face.” (Friend B)
“Oh, my. Has spring finally come for Shiori?” (Friend A)
It was the first time I had ever been ridiculed like that. I couldn’t think straight. For me, it was my first love. This feeling was very important and sweet. I want to keep it safe. I don’t want to hurt it, I don’t want to be hurt. I don’t want it to be made fun of, so I say things that I don’t even think about.
“You’re always with him. It’s obvious that you like him.” (Friend A)
“No! Yuki and I are not like that. There’s no way would lo….. It’s just that since Yuki is always alone and pitiful, so I take care of him. There is no such thing….” (Shiori)
“So you don’t like him?” (Friend A)
“It’s not like that! I don’t really care about Yuki.” (Shiori)
I don’t know what I’m talking about. I argue with my friends, who are grinning at me with bright red faces. The expression on my friends’ faces tightened. Their gazes turned to look behind me. I had a very bad feeling. What’s wrong? I turned around to see Yuki coming out of the men’s restroom.
What…? Why is Yuki here……?
I wondered, but it wasn’t a question or anything. Anyone would go to the bathroom. My mind was so confused that I couldn’t even understand that right away. Did he hear what I just said? Yuki? What did I say? I had confessed my feelings to Yuki, and now I was denying it. My thoughts kept wandering in a corridor with no exit in sight.
“Oh, hey there, Kokonoe-kun.……” (Friend A)
My pale friend tried to talk to him, but Yuki didn’t seem to care about anything in particular, didn’t even look at us, and walked away as if he hadn’t even noticed us.
“W-wha-what should I do, Shiori? He might have heard what you just said!” (Friend A)
“It’s our fault. Because we made fun of Shiori. ……” (Friend B)
“Are you sure you didn’t confess? If it’s a lie, we should deny it right now.” (Friend A)
“Shiori, if you don’t be honest, you might be in trouble…….” (Friend B)
“What! Wait a minute. That’s not–” (Shiori)
I felt tremendous frustration. I needed to do something, but I’m too afraid to move my legs. What to do? What should I do? Should I just tell him that it was all a lie? There is a chance that he didn’t hear me. If that’s the case, it’s better not to do anything unnecessary. But what if he did? I don’t know the answer. Only impatience took over my mind.
A few days passed, and I still couldn’t ask Yuki anything. On the surface, I couldn’t see any change in Yuki’s behavior. He was kind and good-looking as usual. However, I had the feeling that the distance between us had somehow become more distant. But it was a very small change, not enough to be felt clearly. Maybe I’m worrying too much and I’m imagining things. Maybe I’m just misunderstanding because of my anxiety.
But the lie I told was going on before I knew it.
“The tournament is coming up soon, right?” (Shiori)
“Yes, it is.” (Yuki)
Today I was going home with Yuki again. We approached a pedestrian bridge, nothing special had happened since then. So I was somewhat relieved, that was my mistake. If I had told him everything honestly from the beginning, there would have been no misunderstanding or miscommunication. ……
“I’ll be waiting for your answer!” (Shiori)
Without thinking about Yuki’s feelings and without trying to confirm anything, I was so excited that I said something like that.
“Mmm. You’re not going to say you forgot, are you? I’m talking about my confession.” (Shiori)
Yuki’s expression suddenly became uneasy. Yuki is not the kind of person who purposely dodges a question if he knows about it. If he really didn’t think anything of it, he wouldn’t have responded the way he did.
“Oh. Oh, that… Shiori, you don’t have to go along with me anymore.” (Yuki)
“It’s not that I’m lonely, I even prefer it. I’m alone because I want to be. You don’t have to feel sorry for me.” (Yuki)
“What…… are you……?” (Shiori)
I had no idea what Yuki was talking about. But there was something definite–
“Shiori, you don’t have to care about someone you don’t like.” (Yuki)
Yuki was the same as always, even at a time like this. There was no change in his gaze or voice. But the words were definitely filled with rejection.
“I didn’t think you’d do something so trivial as to lie to me.” (Yuki)
Yuki acted nonchalantly as if it was nothing at all.
As expected he heard me! I should have told him right then and there instead of leaving him hanging! Such regret is now overwhelming me. I hurriedly tried to tell him how I felt, but I couldn’t find my voice.
“If you want to hear my answer, I’ll tell you now. Shiori, the answer is no.” (Yuki)
“No! you got it wrong, it’s not like that, Yuki! That is not what I truly meant—.” (Shiori)
“It’s also annoying for Shi…… Kamishiro to go home together with someone like me. Let’s end this kind of thing today.” (Yuki)
Kamishiro? It was as if we were back at the beginning, at the time of our first conversation. I hate it. No, no, no! I really like you, and I’m not lying to you!
In a panic, I tried to reach out to Yuki, who was walking ahead of me without a care in the world, but I lost my footing on the stairs of the footbridge. There was no ground where there should have been. My tangled legs are thrown into the air, and I lose my sense of balance. My body falls straight down to the ground.
He called my name. In this situation, I can’t help but feel happy about that. But my body wouldn’t stop. I found myself in Yuki’s embrace. I guess you could call it a bad fall. I don’t seem to be injured. Someone is supporting me. Yuki is the only one who can support me. Yuki, how about, Yuki!?
Yuki was underneath me as he was protecting me. There was a faint sound of anguish leaking out.
“Are you okay, Shiori?” (Yuki)
Thank God, he’s conscious. Yuki is safe! I was happy for a moment, but then I saw it. Yuki’s right hand was bent in an impossible direction. I play sports, too. I knew at once what it meant.
Yuki had broken his right hand. The tournament was just around the corner.
–Yuki would no longer be able to participate in the tournament.
Ed- Hello editor here, and wow this chapter was something else I can see why Shiori would be like that around her friends cause who hasn’t said stuff like that when they’re nervous but she should’ve confronted him and now he is in this situation he just can’t catch a break can he but as usual if there’s any errors or mistakes please comment down below and I hope you enjoyed chapter 16 of the series :)