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.
When did things start to go so badly? Was it from that casual conversation I had a while back?
“Hey, are you and Wada really just childhood friends? Are you two not dating?” Aya, a classmate, asked me over lunch.
“We’re not. I said this a thousand times already.”
“Gotcha, so there’s nothing to worry about then. Well, I mean, a girl next class asked me if he had a girl or not, and I told her I’d find it out.”
“Hmm,” something small tugged at my chest, and I was uncomfortable.
“I think a lot of people misunderstand you guys’ relationship,” she continued. “While there are many dudes who stare daggers at him for being near you, there are also a fair bit of girls who do the same to you. After all, he’s always at the top of his class.”
“Oh, is that… so?” I have no idea why, but I couldn’t calm down after hearing him be praised.
Since that one talk I had with her, whenever I’d talk with him, I’d inadvertently use a harsh tone. In none of those times was it his fault, and I could only wince at his sad, abandoned eyes in response. Was this one of those cases where a boy bullies a girl he likes?
…Does that mean I like him? I honestly don’t know.
After more than a handful of these days, I could only wonder if I’d gone too far.
“You’re just a childhood friend, stop acting like you’re my boyfriend! Well, I’d never date you in the first place.”
“You’re being unnecessary. Where I go to has nothing to do with you.”
The morning after I’d said this, he walked to school ahead of me. The day after that, another girl from class, Hirano, asked him to have a one-on-one with her. I wasn’t particularly close with her, and she had that cutesy fragile look to her, but whenever it was only her and other girls, she’d use an unapologetically gaudy appearance.
She wasn’t the type of girl who’d like Kyohei, I’d thought back then. Thus, I was curious and casually followed after them. He walked inside an old audiovisual room, but that girl’s friends peered into the classroom from the outside, hiding.
Oh, Hirano has one hell of a smirk. She’s bad news. Is this going to be a false confession? I would do something about it, but I would just seem like a jealous girl then. I’ll just walk home.
The next day, he went ahead of me once again. I tried to talk to him several times, but due to the awkward atmosphere between us, I couldn’t get the chance.
Then, after school, I overheard Hirano’s low voice. “…I ‘confessed’ my feelings to a shy guy like you, so I thought you’d give the OK right away…”
Ah, so that was it after all. My jaw unintentionally dropped from the hilarity of this whole situation being so predictable, and my face relaxed from the relief he wasn’t going out with someone else.
But then, just then I saw his eyes, sunken… And he screamed.
I had never seen him like that.
Following so, one boy after another condemned the girls for doing such a bad prank, and as soon as our old friend Saito finished saying his piece, he took Kyohei out.
“Hey, the way Kenichi just said all that… Are all the girls being treated as accomplices?!” Aya asked me, shook.
“N, no, it couldn’t be…” I denied it.
“Welcome home,” I waited and waited in front of his house, and he finally returned.
“Yeah,” he tried to walk past me with a short reply, but no matter. I decided I’d clear up the misunderstanding before anything.
“Wait a second, about today…”
“What about today?” Was this really Kyohei’s voice? I couldn’t get my next words to leave my lips after I heard his bone-chilling tone. It couldn’t be him, it just couldn’t be.
“If you don’t have anything to say, I’ll walk in. See ya.”
“Ah…” In the end, I couldn’t talk with him properly.
“Welcome home,” the next day, I waited for him in front of his house once again.
“Hey, let’s go shopping Saturday!” This way, we can talk lots while we shop together.
“Why?” Huh? He asked why?! If it had been just a few days ago, he would say yes without missing a beat.
“C’mon, I know you’re not busy!” I use the tone we had always used with each other since we were kids.
“No, I am. Even if I wasn’t, I have no reason to go there with you. Why are you even asking me out in the first place, huh?”
“Why? I mean, we’re childhood friends! We’ve known each other since before we came to! We can at least go shopping together…” I desperately tried to bring us back.
“Yup. We’re just friends like you said before. So why don’t you call up your boyfriend to do that with you, hm?”
“You know I don’t have one.”
“Then get one! It’s none of my business, right? There’s zero reasons for me to go with you.”
Somehow, he doesn’t want to talk to me at all! Why?!
“What is wrong with you? I’ve never said that before!”
“No, no, no. You said, and I quote, ‘Stop acting like you’re my boyfriend!’ and ‘Where I go to has nothing to do with you.’”
Oh no, I did say that…
“T, that’s…” I suddenly couldn’t get the words out of my mouth.
“Actually, what are you on about, huh? You and all the girls laughed at me like I was some sort of clown, didn’t you?”
I knew he misunderstood me!
“N, no, that’s not what I…”
“It doesn’t matter now. Just leave me alone already!”
Kyohei rejected me, clear as day. He didn’t even let me explain as he walked into his house, the door shutting behind him. I ended up talking to him the next day, and the day after that on a Saturday. All those days I stood there, in front of his door, but he barely even said a word back.
On Sunday, my mother asked me to go to an electronics store to buy her a USB drive. As soon as I was about to leave, I saw him there! He was in the PC section, looking at a poster.
As I hurried to approach, I saw a girl basically jumping on him from behind, wrapping her arms around his neck. Who is she? I had thought.
He was surprised at first but soon mellowed out as they talked. I couldn’t hear what they were saying from where I was, but they seemed quite on good terms… No. The expression on his face was more than just warm…
They looked like two inseparable lovers…
The pain in my chest grew like a virus. “Don’t look at her with those sunny eyes, look at me! Look at me!” were the thoughts swirling inside me.
Oh, why did I only realize this now? …I’ve always liked you. I just never noticed.
Understanding there was no going back, I could only stare at the two in dismay. Through my eyes I saw the two of them walk away, arms intertwined, looking like they were having the time of their lives.
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