Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
-sensei: A suffix and noun that literally means teacher.
I haven’t been able to smile properly since that day. Even now, I try my hardest to put on a happy face, but it’s still hard.
Our teachers at the time eventually heard the commotion and rushed to the scene. The whole situation was revealed, with his desk still vandalized. All the students that participated in the bullying were punished, including me.
A meeting with everyone’s parents was also held. Mine looked at me with dismay and yelled as they’ve never before. It was only natural, they were reprimanding me after all.
I immediately went to Takkun’s house to apologize, but he wasn’t there. His sister, Shuri, came out instead, but before I could even bow my head, she slapped me with all her might.
“Don’t you ever approach Tatsumi again!” Her face contorted with pure anger.
Needless to say, the school took that matter very seriously and decided to move him to a different class until graduation, so since then I haven’t seen him once.
And after that day, he rarely came back to his home. I knew because my house was across from his. We even used to look out the window and talk to each other, but now, his was empty. He wasn’t there anymore. All I could see was a window shut-tight, with dark curtains covering whatever may be behind it.
Even if we occasionally passed by each other, there was no way I could get him to smile like he used to. I didn’t come up to him either because I was afraid of his expression, so empty and devoid of emotions.
—And so, our relationship ended.
I could only smile because he was by my side, and I took that for granted. It was only when I lost him that I realized how important he was to me… But it was far too late.
He was no longer here.
Seeing him for the first time in a long while reminded me of his lifeless eyes. He looked much calmer than back then, probably because he had that person, Ryuzaki, by his side.
I was relieved by that, but it was hard not being the one right next to him… I’m being selfish. I’m the one who hurt him.
I guess I let these thoughts surface on my face because, as I was contemplating all that’s happened so far, a classmate called out to me.
“Sakurai-san, you okay? Something happened?”
“Eh? Oh, no, it’s nothing. I’m fine.”
“Hmm… Oh, by the way, is that a bracelet you’re wearing?”
“Y–Yeah…” I nodded.
She turned her face to me with a grin, and I wondered what was so funny about it.
“Sakurai-san… Are you left-handed, by any chance?”
“Y–Yeah, but why…”
Why is she… Ah!
By the time I realized it, it was far too late. That girl was already convinced.
“A pink bracelet on your dominant wrist, huh… Could it be?”
“N–No, no, no, you’re w–wrong!”
“You’re lying~! Oh, does Aizawa-kun wear the other pair?”
I shrieked at the sheer surprise of that situation. Meanwhile, people around me were squealing “Kya~!” and “Cute!” I could only blush and look down, embarrassed. The expression on my face was almost a verbal admission.
After a short fuss, the girls grinned and said, “We’ll support you, Sakurai-san!”
“Thanks, but I’m fine… It’s impossible either way.”
My gaze lowered to the ground, and they encouraged me. “That’s not true!” and “You’ll be fine!” they said. However, what’s impossible is impossible. I’m sure my feelings will never reach him.
“Really, I’m fine…”
“… Got it.”
They must’ve realized something was going on by my attitude, so they didn’t mention it anymore. I’m grateful for their concern.
“Sorry, I ruined the mood…” I apologized.
“No, it’s fine. We were overly excited too.”
I’m sure these were good people… But even so, I still wanted to go home. I wasn’t too excited to go out in the first place… Ah, I’m the same as I’ve ever been. In the end, I’m always to blame for being a pushover. I can’t even imagine being next to him if I stay like this…
As I was drowning in self-mockery, our group was approached from behind. “Are you guys students at Kiryuugaoka? What are you doing out here at this hour!”
“—?!” Everyone was surprised. Looking behind us, we saw a woman with short red hair and a black suit staring at us with a tough look. Next to her was…
Huh? She looks familiar… Oh, it’s Hiiragi-sensei!
In front of us stood our homeroom teacher, Sanae Hiiragi-sensei. She was supported by that red-haired woman, and she was having a hard time standing up. The reason I took a bit to recognize the teacher was because of her red face and unsteady steps, an image completely different from the usual stern teacher.
If you listened carefully, you could hear her groaning “Aizawa, you mutt…”
“…” We were all speechless. Certainly, she couldn’t help but drink after what happened during homeroom with Takkun.
“A–Ahaha, I’m sorry about her… Are you guys from 1B?”
“Ah, yes, but um…”
The woman that supported our teacher was a bit bummed out, scratching her cheek. After a few seconds she broke her expression and introduced herself.
“I’m Makoto Hoshimiya, the homeroom teacher for class 1A. I’m also in charge of PE, so I’ll be with you guys as well. I look forward to working with you.”
We bowed our heads and said, “We look forward, too.”
Seeing this, she nodded lightly, and then switched to a more serious tone. “Well then… I’m not really surprised high-schoolers are out this time of night. Though, do you know what time it is?”
I looked at my phone and saw it was already 10 PM. It was certainly too late for someone our age to be out and about.
“I understand students get excited but don’t take it too far. I’ll let you off the hook for today, but there won’t be a next time, you hear me?”
“Yes…” We all replied dejectedly.
She saw our response and nodded. “Good. I’ll take you all home.”
“Are you sure?” One of my classmates asked her apologetically.
“Don’t worry, this is also a teacher’s job.”
“It’s fine. If something happened to you all, it’d be way worse.”
“No, it’s not that, um… Hiiragi-sensei.”
Everyone looked at the intoxicated teacher, who still constantly groaned “Why me, ah…”. What happened to her during homeroom must’ve pissed her off to oblivion.
“Well, she’ll be back to normal in a bit. I’ll take you with me either way.”
Saying so, she grabbed Hiiragi-sensei and placed her over her shoulder.
“Well then…” Everyone agreed to be taken home safely.
The teacher turned toward the station and we followed suit. She’d take the ones who commuted by train first. However, after a bit, I saw a familiar boy walking in our opposite direction from the station.
He looked somewhat tired from whatever he was doing. As soon as I recognized him, I muttered the name of the boy whom I pictured so much in my mind.
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