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.
Humans are weak creatures.
We are misled by the stares of others, unable to express our thoughts. We forcibly swallow the idea that pushing kindness upon others is compassion. Out of fear of ruining the status quo and present relationships, we never say anything. We blindly believe time will fix any and every issue, and never act upon it. People who truly care about something will stand their ground and act with determination. They’ll push through any hardships while aiming for that one thing they desire… But that’s the exception rather than the rule. Not many are like that, and we’re all fools.
I’m one of those fools…
I didn’t think to turn around when I heard her voice chasing me down. You never learn your lesson, I thought. She’ll just lose heart and stop coming after me anyway as she did this very morning. Even as I tell myself that, the footsteps kept approaching, only to suddenly stop. I heard someone falling down behind me. This is it, I thought. She won’t get back up again. No matter how many times you try to tell me, my feelings—
“Haah… Haah… Sen… pai…”
Before I had time to think, I turned around to see her dainty hair disheveled and blood dripping down her knees. Her eyes pushed through the pain and tears, piercing straight through me like a spear, and she tried to stand up. Slowly, with the instability of a newborn fawn, she tried to walk in my direction. Caught in her steel gaze, I’m unable to speak. “Why is she following me so adamantly?” I cannot help but scream that question inside my head. The power I felt from her eyes was wholly different than earlier as if her fright had suddenly disappeared.
“…What is it?”
Even if out of breath, her words rung clear. She spoke of everything politely and carefully, as if the things her every phrase represented were treasures she wanted to protect. The day we met, the times we played together, what she thought of me, why she started making fun of me—she told me everything without once misrepresenting her feelings. Even when her voice cracked or she expressed it childishly, she was truthful.
I could’ve never imagined Kurosaki had such feelings for me, though I guess that was due to me blocking love out of my life without even realizing it. While I was oblivious, she noticed that part of me I never did. My hurt was a shackle that held her down.
The next thing I knew, my body stopped listening. I held her in my arms as she quivered and talked. Even though it was a considerable distance to school, it was still a rather used route. It was easy to imagine these actions spreading throughout the classes, but I still couldn’t help but embrace her as she blossomed beautifully before my eyes.
It’s true her words wounded my heart and she had blame there, but the fact her banter scarred me was due it being weak and sensitive. Even the lightest joke was perceived as an insult. Despite all that, she originally acted out her feelings for me. In hindsight, I recalled she made fun of me and my situation but never denied me as a person. I acted rashly due to my feelings, but now that I can think things through calmly, I understand.
I was the one who caused her to avoid telling me her feelings by letting it all happen. I should’ve just told her I was starting to believe in her, to warm up to the possibilities. Instead, all I did was open my mouth waiting for the words to fall out by themselves. I was never proactive, and my lack of action made her want to hide her feelings.
“Kurosaki… I’m sorry.”
“W… why are you apologizing… senpai?”
“I’m the one who made you suffer. I’m really sorry I didn’t realize you were thinking of me.”
“S, senpai… Sorry…” Her arms, which only touched my back, suddenly cupped in strength. The warmth of a person I hadn’t felt in a long time permeated my heart.
To abandon one’s past weakness is also to accept someone who is willing to admit their own faults and grow. What has already happened will never disappear, and it’ll take me a long time to fully trust her again, but one thing I can say for certain…
My resentment toward her is already gone from my mind.
Soaking in the bathtub, I gazed at the ceiling above. The warmth of water against skin and the gentle breeze caressing my cheeks felt nice.
After what happened at the station, I walked Kurosaki to the infirmary and spent another ordinary day at school, ignoring the constant stares from everyone around me. I even felt Asakawa, my ex-friend, staring at me with a horrified expression, perhaps due to the erupting rumors. Despite all that, I’m not a man who cares about such things anymore.
Well… I’d like to think so, but there was just one doubt brewing in my mind.
I’ve always thought the most important thing was being kind, remembering to smile, and trying my best to make others feel good about themselves. However, as a result, I’ve struggled to convey my feelings to anyone, and those I’ve allowed access to my heart have treated me disrespectfully. That’s why I began to fight what I thought was unreasonable to protect myself. Saying things I wanted to say without a filter felt good, but… If I was wrong back then, what keeps me from being wrong right now?
Is unconditional affirmation of others really the only way to be kind?
Is it right to beat down people based on facts and feelings alone, without even batting an eye to the intentions behind their actions?
Of course, there’s no need to condone those who act maliciously or cross the line to harm even those uninvolved, but what if, like Kurosaki, they had their own feelings and intentions behind their doings? Human beings, myself included, are creatures that grow up by realizing their own mistakes. Then, if we can understand the person who made the mistake and if they understood it themselves, isn’t forgiving that person true kindness?
“Yuu, I see you’re finally open about your feelings.”
I wonder what Asakawa’s thoughts were behind these words…
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