What should I do?
No matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t find an answer.
But somehow I knew.
I knew that I could not find the answer alone.
You can’t get there by yourself.
That’s why I don’t know.
Because I was always alone.
It was normal for me.
I’m used to being alone. I’m used to being disliked, and I’m used to being met with hostility.
The solitary life is very comfortable, sweet, and safe.
I studied. I didn’t want to cause any more trouble to my family.
I trained my body. To get out of the trouble I was getting into.
I learned something because I had to. I’ve never expected anything from anyone, never wanted anything from anyone.
Has there ever been anything that I truly wanted? Has there ever been something that I truly wished for from the bottom of my heart?
If there was, it was only a fleeting illusion when I was still innocent and unaware of anything.
Somewhere along the line, those days became the norm and the normality. A normal, ordinary peace.
That’s why I think.
Why, why can’t I go a little faster?
The hand the boy had once extended was shaken off, and now he could not grab the hand extended by the girl.
Parallel lines that don’t cross each other.
So today, alone and without anyone to guide him, he tries to find the answer he cannot find.
He doesn’t even know what’s wrong or right.
Why is it that we always act only after it’s too late?
“What should we do? I’m not really good at games.” (Shiori)
“Well, why don’t we play bingo? We’ll start by making a bingo sheet.” (Yuki)
“That’s not a game for two people, is it!?” (Shiori)
“We don’t have any prizes.” (Yuki)
“That’s not what I meant.……”(Shiori)
“Okay, let’s start with numbers 1 through 500.” (Yuki)
“We’ll never get it right! How many hours are we going to do this?” (Shiori)
After much discussion, we decided to go with the standard “Fallen” puzzle. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be a romance game where you complete puzzles to corrupt the characters. What the heck is that? I couldn’t help but check it out, and it turned out to be a mysterious company I had never heard of. By the time I’d gotten the fourth character to fall, I was dumbfounded but surprisingly excited, and I was having a good time.
“Is carbonara okay?” (Yuki)
“Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve had Yuki’s cooking!” (Shiori)
I dried my wet clothes in the dryer. I checked the ingredients and made the dish quickly.
Shiori was apparently not that good at cooking for herself. Rather, she suddenly started living alone and was put in an environment where she had to do everything by herself. She will gradually get used to cooking for herself. I looked at the kitchen and I can see that she’s having a hard time.
“Oi. You can’t only eat convenience store food.” (Yuki)
I put the food on a plate and set it on the table. It was a simple meal, but it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. I kept the portions small, assuming I would eat again at night. After all, Shiori Kamishiro was in her growth spurt, and it was SUGOI DEKAI. It shouldn’t be a problem to eat this much.
“I’m doing my best, …… just not as well as I’d like.” (Shiori)
“It’s a bit of a hassle to do it for one person. You’ll get used to it.” (Yuki)
“You’re right! Itadakimasu” (Shiori)
When I finished eating and washing the dishes, Shiori spoke to me in a timid manner.
“I don’t know, this kind of thing is nice. Maybe it’s because I live alone. Sometimes I get a little lonely at night, so it’s nice to have someone around.” (Shiori)
“By the way, aren’t you going back to your parents’ house for the summer?” (Yuki)
“My mom and dad want me to come home, so I’m thinking about it.” (Shiori)
Shiori looks at the calendar on the wall and gives a troubled smile. Perhaps it’s a question of whether to live a carefree life on her own or a blissful life at home.
“You don’t have any siblings, right? Your parents must be worried.” (Yuki)
“Haha. They call me every week. They’re overprotective, aren’t they?” (Shiori)
“That’s how it is. My mom is overprotective too. She comes to my room to sleep with me every day.” (Yuki)
“I’ve been wondering about this for a while now, what’s going on? They’re beyond overprotective!” (Shiori)
I’d like to know too. The frequency has increased dramatically. What is it that drives her so much? It was also a mystery that mom and my sister, who was already sitting in my room, were subtly checking each other out. I beg you, please be friendly.
“Do you regret choosing this life?” (Yuki)
“No, it’s not! I’m still having fun every day. I didn’t want to say goodbye like that.……” (Shiori)
Shiori’s eyes catch mine. The innocent girl who could get along with anyone had somehow come to cast a shadow. A minor change. Still, it’s a big enough change that anyone close to her can sense it.
“I like you, Yuki.- It’s not just because I wanted to make it up to you. I wanted to be with you. I just want you to know that.” (Shiori)
The words come straight to me, as if to block my escape route. That’s why I have to give an answer. I thought that if she was just worried about me, I could tell her that there was no need for that and that the problem would be solved if I kept my distance.
It would have been better if I had just lied to her. It was a disgusting comment that belittled Shiori’s feelings. But her eyes, which were filled with determination, confronted me with the fact that she would never let such a misunderstanding happen again.
I learned that apparently some people liked me. I don’t have the insensitivity or the capacity of a harem manga protagonist. I don’t think I can act like a harem manga protagonist and continue to act unconsciously like that.
It’s cruel to let a person’s affection be withheld and unnoticed forever. Time flows equally for everyone. It was a sin to keep the limited time of her youth tied up with me forever. Everyone has the right to live a glorious life. And no one has the right to take it away.
So, I’ll tell her. No strings attached, just the facts. Even if the answer is hurtful, Shiori should live her youth as Shiori.
Denial or withholding doesn’t change the fact that it hurts. It only changes the size of the wound. Even so, I shouldn’t play with her feelings by keeping them vague and letting her keep hoping and expecting.
“Shiori, I can’t accept your confession.” (Yuki)
I hear the sound of a distinct gasp.
For a moment, I couldn’t pretend not to see her face distorted as if she was about to cry.
“I can’t be next to you, can I? Is it because of Suzurikawa?” (Shiori)
“I’ll tell her the same thing.” (Yuki)
“…… Eh? Wh, why ……?” (Shiori)
–I don’t want to say it, don’t make me say it!
Somewhere in my mind, such a conflict was swirling.
Still, I know that I have to say it out loud to convince myself.
“Because I don’t like it…….” (Yuki)
That was my only real thought.
“I-is it my fault? If I hadn’t done what I did……!” (Shiori)
She wiped the tears from her large eyes with her fingers.
“No, it’s not. You’re not doing anything wrong. It’s all my fault. You can hate me. So it’s time for you to move on. If you don’t do that…..!” (Yuki)
“Stop it, Yuki! I can’t do that.……” (Shiori)
“You’ll be popular. You’ll find a great guy. Not someone like that guy from the soccer team, but there are some good guys out there, like that fresh-looking guy.” (Yuki)
“It can’t be someone else! The one I love–” (Shiori)
“I’ll let you be the manager until the fall tournament. Your redemption is over, you know. You’ve helped me enough. I know you’ve been asked out by a lot of athletic clubs. There are a lot of people counting on you.” (Yuki)
“Why……? Let’s do it together! Without Yuki, what’s the point!” (Shiori)
The past didn’t matter. I didn’t even care that I was injured in the first place. This was just a goodbye talk. She confessed to me and I refused. It was just a common scene that could be found anywhere. But it has become complicated. The two events were different in nature, and the past had already been settled.
“Thank you for everything.” (Yuki)
“No….. don’t leave me……” (Shiori)
Her hand touches my cheek as she clings to me.
How can I help her move forward? How can I shake off the past? Is it enough if she hates me? If only she could see that it was a mistake to fall in love with such a horrible person, that it wasn’t worth worrying about, that he was a disgrace…
“Shiori Kamishiro, I’ve always hated you. Stay away from me from now on.” (Yuki)
I shook Shiori off and headed for the front door.
When I stepped outside, the thick cloud cover had passed and the sun was beginning to return.
“Then, goodbye.” (Yuki)
I whispered quietly without looking back. I knew that no matter what I did, I would make her sad. Maybe it was a contradiction that I still wanted her to be happy. If I could love someone, would there be a future where I could love Shiori? In any case, it is only an IF, a question without an answer.
I can’t even imagine how much it would hurt her to have an affair with me once we’re in a relationship. I don’t think I could do such a thing. I knew the old man was a scumbag. I can understand why my mother hates him so much.
I am Yukito Kokonoe, a man who cannot be a harem protagonist.
[Shiori Kamishioro PoV]
“I’ve been rejected.……” (Shiori)
Yuki is gone and I’m alone in the room. Tears well up in my eyes and dripping down on my cheeks. I take out the running shoes I got as a birthday present from the box and try them on. They fit perfectly.
Happy and sad memories. Uncontrolled and unbalanced emotions.
“He said he hates ……. That’s right. There’s no way he likes me.” (Shiori)
I was the one who hurt him three times. I denied my own feelings and then hurt him. The advisor and members of the club blamed Yuki for getting injured right before an important tournament. That’s how high the expectations were. I was trying my best to make a difference. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t resist saying such words.
But Yuki never said that I was the cause, and protected me from injury and blame. I just accepted what he said and quit playing basketball. I made no excuses. After that, I never showed my face at the basketball team again, nor did I show up for the handover to the younger students. The advisor and members of the men’s basketball team went to apologize, but nothing changed.
It was all my fault. It was no wonder he hated me. There was no way he could fall in love with someone like that. Maybe he felt that I was bothering him. It was the first time I was told right up front that he hated me. That’s what I thought. But Yuki…
“I can’t give up.……” (Shiori)
If Yuki had said it with his usual blank expression, I would have accepted his words without hesitation. I could have believed that Yuki really hated me. Maybe I would have been able to give up.
But the expression on Yuki’s face as he said it was the most painful and bitter expression I had ever seen. The words “I hate you” were squeezed out of his mouth. So I understand. That’s kindness. It’s a false sincerity. I can’t help but feel that there is a kindness left that I can’t fully embrace.
Maybe that’s why. Even though he told me he hated me, and even though he denied it with words, my feelings swelled up, and I couldn’t control the feeling of liking him. But I don’t know what to do. I couldn’t reach Yuki’s heart. I was sure that he would choose Suzurikawa-san. She was his childhood friend and the person Yuki used to love.
But he said that he would tell the same thing to Suzurikawa-san. Why? Then who does Yuki like? Yes, remember what he said. What did he say? Yuki is not very good at pretending to be something he’s not. I guess I could say he’s honest. He has the strongest mental ability to say any words honestly and mend them. That’s how I know.
“–Isn’t there someone he likes……?” (Shiori)
I think he said he didn’t like me. There is no one else that he likes, and it is not Suzurikawa-san, but for a different, more fundamentally different reason.……
I’m not a stranger to the road, am I…….
Yuki told me over and over again. He said he didn’t care anymore. In fact, I think he’s right. If Yuki said he didn’t care, then he really didn’t care. That’s the way he is. Still, I wanted to make up for what I had done.
“I see. I wanted someone to be mad at me……” (Shiori)
I don’t know why I understand this now. Why didn’t I notice it before? It is always too late for me to realize it, and there is only regret. Yuki is kind. That kindness used to bind me. And now he has freed me from it.
I can’t give anything back. I just let him hurt himself and protect me. Nothing I can do. I was tormented by a sense of helplessness. So I chased after him. I wanted to be with him even though I chose to live alone.
But I think Yuki felt that I was sacrificing myself for him. That’s why he rejected me like that. No, that’s not it. Although I said to myself that it wasn’t just about making up for something, maybe I still didn’t understand it well. How I feel. It’s not about redemption or atonement, I just genuinely like him. Pure, unadulterated feelings. Could you please give me another shot?
I was told to move forward. I’m sure that means to look to the future, not the past. But won’t Yuki be there in the future?I don’t want to do that. This is not about me. It’s about Yuki. I can’t reach him. I can’t find the answer.
“But even Yuki can’t get there on his own, can he?” (Shiori)
I am sure that Suzurikawa-san will come to the same conclusion.
Even if Yuki answered that he would not accept Suzurikawa-san, I am sure that she would not give up just like I did.
No matter how much he thinks he’s alone, his words won’t make me give up.
Because it’s not just about him or me, it’s about the two of us.
We can only be satisfied with the conclusions we come to together.