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.
As soon as I called Riko, she answered immediately. I wanted to talk about the interesting things that happened during summer vacation since we couldn’t meet due to conflicting schedules. Despite that, we kept the small talk to a minimum while discussing everything, not hiding a single event.
“… No, that was weird on your part, Yui-chan.”
“Is that… so?”
It’s not that I didn’t expect this from all past events, but I still went silent for w while. Noticing I didn’t fully understand what she meant, Riko carefully spun her words as if explaining them to a child.
“Now, Yui-chan, I think your criteria for judging what makes a man happy consists only of the customers who come to the store.”
“Hmm, I think so, since there’s no other guy I know. Takuya-san, the “captain”, Yuta-kun, and a whole lot of other dudes were happy to be abused by me.”
“You might think so, but I don’t believe Yuta-kun is one of them.”
That can’t be. Ever since I started hurling horrible words at people, the number of customers coming specifically for me increased dramatically. In other words, there was a demand. The “captain” was the first guy who asked me to insult him, then Takuya-san started to promote me enthusiastically. Even Yuta-kun…
“He was there for me even before I became popular.”
“Is that right? Well, he was different than any other customer at the time. Did he, y’know, ever say what he liked about you?”
Riko never pushed me too far, and thanks to her patience I gradually regained my ability to think clearly. C’mon, I need to remember. I must’ve asked him what he liked before.
“… My… smile.”
That’s right, a smile. When I was first getting to know him, I asked that same question.
“Hey, Yuta. I’m not popular, so why are you supporting me that much?”
“Hmm… You’re cute and fun to talk to, but the nicest thing about you is your smile.”
“Yeah. What can I say, when you’re happy you look so radiant.”
“I see… He liked me just the way I was… I, I understand…”
For a moment, I thought I’d cry. My fingertips, however, felt nothing at the hem of my eye. Overwhelming regret dried up my tears, and I couldn’t shed a single drop. How could I not notice something so simple? Maybe other people liked my smile as Yuta did, but he was the only one who ever put it into words.
Maybe his heart had a lacerated wound to begin with; the reason his eyes reflected fragility. That’s why, when I kept pushing and pushing that character, what hid beneath him finally surfaced and he exploded. In terms of just being professional, my character may have been the right choice, but playing it without any thought made me act like a slave to my own creation.
“Yui-chan, what do you want to do now?”
“I… I want to apologize to him. Oh, and I want to thank you as well.”
First and foremost, I must apologize. It’s not enough to just say I didn’t know any better or that I was wrong. I hurt the same person who saved me with his words, and I have yet to repay him for it. Besides, I want to thank him for being there for who I really was.
“Then… we have to plan something. Do you happen to know which school he goes to?”
“Yeah… There’s only one school around here with a fountain.”
He always came by the store on the weekends, so I never knew what school he went to. However, I recalled one thing. He once told me there was a fountain where he attended.
“Then you could make contact with him,” Riko added. “I don’t know where he lives, and I’m not even sure you even should go there, so just wait until the vacation’s over. If you don’t have the courage, I can go with you.”
“Thanks, but I’ll try to do it on my own.”
“Well, I’ll be rooting for you from behind the scenes! If you need anything else, call me! I’ll lend an ear anytime.”
With that, we hung up the call. Silence reigned in the room again, but I no longer felt alone. A little spark of courage lit inside my heart. What a good friend I have… It was all my fault in the first place, yet she still listened kindly without stating the obvious and rubbing salt into the wound. Without her, I wouldn’t even know what I did wrong.
I’ll repay Yuta and Riko’s kindness by doing something. Even if I’m terrified of being rejected, I will tell him what needs to be said.
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