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.
“Do you have something to tell me, Master?”
After that nasty encounter with Nakabayashi, Miriya towered over me with her arms crossed in grit, waking me up.
“Ah… Finally, homeroom’s over. What a nice sleep.”
“You’re lazy as ever, it seems. More importantly, have you expressed your thanks and an apology yet?”
My drowsy mind pondered her words. “Thanks…? Apology…?”
“Yes,” she nodded, arms still crossed.
“Thank you for becoming my big sis. Now say sorry for all the misunderstandings you’ve caused.”
“Why am I the one who has to apologize, idiot brother of mine?”
“Hey! Even if just hypothetically, you should still show some respect toward your Mast—” Just as I was about to say that, a thousand glares bore through me like knives. It felt like it, at least. “…I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused, ma’am.”
“That’s fine. Just make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Is she really my sl*ve? She’s too disrespectful, that’s for sure. Well, whatever, it’s not like this is new anyway, I thought, scratching my back just before standing to leave.
“Izuru-kun, let’s go home together.”
“Oh, Hiraoka,” standing next to me, she held her bag with a skip of cuteness. Honestly, she was too dazzling.
“What about the council?”
She’s quite popular at school. Plus, her parents are acquainted with the chairmen, she’s received numerous recommendation letters and reached the position of vice president with her own grit. Actually, she could’ve been the president but declined to respect the experience of the third-years. How admirable.
Despite being that way, she answered my question with her brows slightly furrowed, troubled. “I’ve been taking some time off recently. I told you this morning, right? I’ve been feeling unwell.”
“Oh, is it that serious…? You should consider being hospitalized—” I couldn’t complete what I wanted to say since she forcefully pulled my arm.
“Enough already. Let’s go!”
I got dragged by her toward the classroom door.
“Hey, Miriya-san! Are you free after this? Would you like to have tea with the girls?”
Miriya, who was about to follow after me, got invited to a girl’s gathering. Glancing at her from the side, I relaxed my cheeks a bit. She’s always loved sweets and also enjoyed tea. A few memories of her devouring hotcakes in that other world played fondly in my mind.
With my telepathy, I spoke directly into her mind.
—Go ahead and join them. It’s better if you fit in with the class.
—Is that advice coming from personal experience? It’s something you couldn’t do, after all.
—Ay, are you saying I don’t have any friends?
—Is your comprehension really that poor, Master? It’s all because you always doze off during class, y’know?
—Aight, I get it. You’ve made it crystal clear you’re picking a fight. I’ll talk to you when I get backkkkkk
Oh, right. My telepathy has a limited range. As soon as my connection to Miriya got cut off, I shifted a glance to her while matching my pace with Hiraoka.
However, I wonder why… The look Miriya gave me felt incredibly lonely.
“Miriya was incredibly angry…”
While walking home with Hiraoka, I muttered so while recalling our telepathic conversation from earlier. Her sarcastic remarks were nothing new, but I could feel a bit more vitriol in them than usual. Maybe she sensed, somehow, that I managed to encounter the girl who killed me.
Lost in thought, my eyes wandered to the pavement below. Hiraoka, walking beside me, spoke up after a few empty moments.
“You’ve changed, Izuru-kun.”
“Hm?” Caught off-guard by her sudden remark, I turned to look at her. “You know, there’s a saying that goes, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ Oh, and you’ve become more muscular, too.”
“Well, yeah. Guess I put some effort into working out,” I said. Though, in that damned world, not training meant certain death. Well, I did hope my abilities would increase naturally with time, but that wasn’t a forgiving world. A great deal of effort had to be put in.
“Hehe. I wonder what you’ve been up to while not seeing me.”
“Sorry about that. I had some things going on.”
“Yeah, I can tell even without you saying it. Actually, I can tell just by looking at you.”
“By looking at me…”
I highly doubted she could understand two years of my life with just a glance. While that thought crossed my mind, it soon dissipated into a poof of smoke as soon as her smile turned bittersweet.
“I’ve always been looking at you…”
It was a bit early in the evening, and definitely not late enough for the sun to be setting. Regardless, I felt a strange tension in the air, as if one was to confess something.
“I had planned to make lots of memories this summer… To not have any regrets.”
“Hiraoka? What do you mean by that…?”
In response to my question, Hiraoka remained silent and instead wore the same sad smile she’d been wearing.
Hiraoka stepped forward, holding her bag behind her back, and a lengthened shadow enveloped me. Even if I reached out my hand, the shadow that was born wouldn’t reach Hiraoka.
“I want you to make it up to me for worrying me so much. You don’t have the right to refuse.”
“Make it up?”
What’s this? Strong words parted her lips, and though I didn’t believe she’d cause a horrifying situation like Nakabayashi, I still felt an abstruse discomfort deep in my abdomen. It turned into unpleasant premonitions… And they were never wrong, though I wish they were for once.
“I still have something I wanna do, so I need you to come with me to the fireworks festival?”
We went every year, didn’t we? How much does she love fireworks? Still, without waiting for me to nod, she leaned closer. The pressure she exerted on me was inexplicable, and she finally spoke, “I said, you don’t have the right to refuse.”
“Um, yes, I’ll gladly go with you!”
“Good. Then let’s meet at the usual shrine tomorrow.”
“Understood!” I snapped the cleanest salute known to man, to which she laughed while hiding her mouth.
“Hehe, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“…You’re the only weirdo who’d ever invite someone like me.”
In fact, apart from my family, I’ve never been invited by anyone else. Which begged the question, why did she care so much about me? That’s something I’ve thought about for ages, but could never figure out despite the countless hours of thinking.
Sure, I’ve had fleeting thoughts that maybe she liked me, but she was just a kind girl that probably wanted to help a loner like me… Yeah, I’m satisfied with that understanding. I don’t want to go through the pain of misunderstanding things.
As I nodded to myself, she finally said, “I’ll be going then,” and raised her hand goodbye.
“Huh? Your house isn’t in that direction, right?”
“I moved recently. While you were gone.”
Deciding that it would be disadvantageous to continue the conversation on this topic, I simply waved my hand.
“Well then, see you there. Until tomorrow.”
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.”
Just as I took a step forward to continue walking straight, Hiraoka muttered softly. “…You don’t have to bring that older sister who didn’t even know I existed.”
Even counting that other world, I’ve never heard a tone so low and imposing. I couldn’t help but stutter.
After parting ways with Izuru, Serina Hiraoka walked along the wall, leaning on it and dragging her feet. Her heavy steps were slow as if she was wearing shackles. After walking several tens of meters, she caught sight of a black sedan.
In a hurry, her assigned maid ran over.
The maid embraced the collapsing Serina and gently placed her hand on her forehead.
“Young lady… you have a fever…”
“…Don’t let anyone at home know. I absolutely have to be picked up tomorrow…”
Serina had always been weak-bodied, though it had gradually improved after entering high school. However, about half a year ago, her condition took a turn for the worse.
It was an unknown illness that plagued her. During an episode, her breathing hitched, and numbness spread throughout her whole body. Even the family doctor who was brought in said her body required urgent hospitalization.
Still, she continued to attend school, being given sedatives and enhancers to deceive and manage her worsening condition until today.
“…It really was the last chance I had for the summer vacation, dummy!”
In the maid’s arms, Serina shed tears. Where had that boy been, and what had he done for a whole month?
During the first two days of her vacation, she didn’t question the lack of contact. But a week passed, then two, and his absence became increasingly concerning. She even went to his house, but the response received was, “A boy should run away from home at least once,” which was carefree as ever.
Could Serina have done something like that too…? She pondered, but now she was truly worried about Izuru, who couldn’t be found even with the help of her family’s resources.
She felt relieved when he suddenly appeared at the start of the second semester, but she was also angry at him for not explaining the circumstances. However, she didn’t have the time to ask him about the whole ordeal… For tomorrow, her hospitalization life might begin.
“…I hope I can tell him tomorrow.”
As the maid helped Serina into the car and fastened her seatbelt, Serina muttered, averting her gaze from the maid threading the seatbelt. The servant looked at her with a sad smile.
“Please do your best. First loves can come true.”
“Hehe… Isn’t it something that won’t come true by definition…?”
“There’s nothing that can’t come true for you, young lady.”
“…I hope that’s right.”
Serina closed her eyelids, reminiscing about the childhood memories she had of Izuru.
“…How wonderful it would be to have my memory remain even after I’m gone, and die while still loving someone so much…”
The maid silently gripped the steering wheel, tears welling up in the corners of her reddening eyes.
Serina had been diagnosed with less than six months to live.
T/N: This one took me by surprise. Not the disease, but the delivery. Just, damn.
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