“…-ank you~, come again~”
The convenience store clerk’s drawn out voice could be heard at his back. Yasuki walked out through the automatic doors with both hands full, and the strong scent of the woods tickled his nose.
Contrary to his expectations, the one who remained all the way to the end in Rock, Paper, Scissors was Yasuki. He started halfway through, but he was unlucky. When he asked Uchida where the convenience store was: “Huh? On the road the bus took on the way here, isn’t it?”
Certainly, he did see one store-looking building before they entered the mountains… It couldn’t be that one, so when he checked: “Ah, yeah, that one” Uchida said blankly.
“Yassan, you OK? Do you want to go together?”
Was the offer from Katsuya, but Yasuki declined it politely. He’s always together with someone, so occasionally he wanted some time alone, he thought.
Eventually, Yasuki leisurely descended through the prefectural roads in the lightless mountains.
At the convenience store he shopped, read some of the books on sale, and finished up. Now for the ascent. The training camp dorm should be about 2km. At this rate, it seems like the drinks will get warm.
However, he had no intention of hurrying. The quietness of the night where occasional sounds from bugs could be heard and the refreshing breeze on the skin that was at odds with the overbearing heat of the day were both pleasant.
About a third of the way down the road he came, his arms started getting heavier and heavier. “I should have brought Katsuya along after all.” At the time he thought that, a whitish silhouette just after a slight curve in the road rose into view.
It shouldn’t have been there on the way here. Looking closely it’s a person, and they’re crouching over like they may have been injured.
While walking, he gradually got closer to them. Before he said “Are you OK,” Yasuki quickly stopped himself.
Brightly colored with gentle waves and a slim back. He remembered this hairstyle and atmosphere. Without a doubt.
‘What should I do,’ Yasuki hesitated. If he extends a helping hand, he’ll definitely be rejected with just a ‘Don’t worry about it.’ He doesn’t want his help to be coldly refused a second time by the same person. Thinking about it, pretending he didn’t see seemed like a good plan.
Feigning unconcern, he passes by the hunched over, white t-shirt wearing Kitaoka’s side.
…but, when he was one step ahead of Kitaoka, he got a little concerned after all, and sent a fleeting glance toward her back.
At that instant, their eyes met.
Kitaoka immediately looked away. But in the darkness of the night, he had a feeling that just for a moment he had seen her crying.
…Should I just leave things like this? But those eyes may have been seeking help.
Yasuki, returning to Kitaoka, steeled his resolve and asked:
Kitaoka replied with her head hanging down in a weak voice, quite unlike her usual one:
On the asphalt ground, among Kitaoka’s things, lay delicate sandals. It seems like the type that stays on with an ankle strap, but the sewing was shoddy and the strap was torn apart. She also went shopping, since there is a convenience store bag next to her.
Yasuki’s eyes suddenly fell to the barefoot Kitaoka’s toes.
(…Waah, It’s bad)
Did they not fit her feet very well? The joints on her big toes and little toes had blood blisters that were swollen to the point of bursting any time now. Moreover, that sandal seems to have broken quickly. Isn’t going through the trouble of wearing it unreasonable when it doesn’t fit.TL1 Feeling pity, Yasuki crouched down in front of Kitaoka and looked into her face.
“Feet hurt? Can you walk?”
Keeping the silence, she shook her head.
Muttering ‘I see,’ Yasuki took a deep breath and stood up.
“P-Piggyback is definitely out of the question, alright”
He had no intention of carrying her piggyback. In the first place, something like climbing this hill while carrying a person along with the stuff a long distance would be difficult for Yasuki who has an interest in mountain climbing’s physical strength.TL2
He undid the laces on the sneakers he was wearing, took them off, and tossed them in front of Kitaoka.
“Put those on”
‘Huh’, Kitaoka said, opening her eyes wide.
“The size should be bigger, so the blisters shouldn’t get hit, right? If you say you don’t want them that’s fine too though.”
While he conveyed that with a tone that was a little mean, Kitaoka, in place of an answer, thrust her feet in the sneakers.
Converse Allstars. They have a unisex design, so Kitaoka wearing them didn’t look strange at all. He also wore socks, so if it’s only until he returns to the dorm then he’ll manage.
She forcefully tied the laces and unsteadily rose to her feet. Her feet dragged a little as she started walking.
“Lend me the bags too”
He already had lots of his own bags, but he can’t ask a girl, furthermore an injured person, to hold anything.
Kitaoka, again silently, presented him with the convenience store bags in her hands.
(A woman with no gratitude, huh)
Yasuki thought while accepting the bags. It’s good to obediently say things, but would it hurt to be a little more friendly? Also…
…also, speaking of things she’s said, does this girl think telling him ‘thanks’ would cost her something? He wondered if this woman was looking down on him.
He was a bit disgusted by his own thoughts, but after taking a large breath in, he walked the mountain roads in the same silence as her.
Sometimes he stepped on large stones, and as expected, walking in just a pair of socks was rough.
5 Minutes? 10? He didn’t know, but after a short while passed, the Kitaoka who should have been walking behind him suddenly called out.
“I’m saying you’re walking too fast!”
Looking over his shoulder, there was easily about 20 meters between them. The one she’s talking to is lending his shoes and carrying her bags, but that’s a pretty high handed attitude.
However, the other person is injured. Yasuki stopped and waited for her to catch up, and then slowed his pace compared to before.
Going about the same speed and walking in line, the trailing Kitaoka suddenly faced toward him and said:
“Hey~Hey~, are you Uchida’s gofer1?”
Gofer… that’s a pretty general statement. It seems that she thinks of him as that sort of existence.
“It’s not like that. I just lost at Rock, Paper, Scissors”
To the succinctly stated truth, Kitaoka nodded and murmured ‘Hmm.’
“So it was like that. Me too.”
“Me, Miyu, and Juri were talking, but they mentioned a test of courage; did Rock, Paper, Scissors; I lost, and I was forced to go.”
So that kind of thing happened between girls. …or should I say what if something happens and there’s no way to call someone. This girl’s friends…
When he remember the faces of the names that Kitaoka brought up moments ago, Yasuki suddenly opened his mouth.
He shut his confused mouth, but Kitaoka didn’t let it go. Saying ‘What is it?’
At some point, she had started walking next to him and was looking at his face while smiling and laughing.
“Ah, could it be about Sasaki-kun?”
Bullseye. At the party before, Sasaki Ryou was lamenting being rejected by Mochida Miyu.
Just how did she reject him… he became curious about it, but it looks like Kitaoka knew about it after all. (By the way, Kitaoka has wavy hair, while Mochida has silky straight hair. If he had to say, he has a feeling that Mochida is more popular with the guys.)
Kitaoka lightly shrugged and curled her hair around her finger while saying:
“It couldn’t be helped, you know. Miyu is dating a college student right now, after all”
“Yeah. It’s a senpai from her home town, apparently. …Ah, that’s a secret you know.”
“Then, why tell me?”
“Cause you seem tight lipped”
She quickly declared that. He didn’t know if he should be happy about that, but he didn’t quite understand why he was told the things he didn’t need to know. It could be that with the long road, she may just be bored.
Eventually, from the time when she couldn’t sleep because her futon is hard to the time she didn’t understand exponents/logarithms, she started complaining about anything. Yasuki also answered in bits and pieces, but shortly after, because they were really tired, Kitaoka also stopped talking.
While they continued walking in silence, finally the dorm’s lights came into view. Breathing a sigh of relief while going to the back door, by the kitchen door a shadow could be seen. It came toward them waving its hands wildly.
A bobbed haired, short statured girl beelined for Kitaoka. It’s Andou Juri from the same class. Being happy, the black T-shirt wearing girl seems to not have seen Yasuki.
Andou ws jumping at Kitaoka, and spoke in a voice overcome with emotion.
“Ema! I waited and waited, but you never came back. I was so worried!”
“Ahh, sorry. sorry.”
“Really! I couldn’t even call you, you know!? I didn’t know what to do!”
Kitaoka was holding Andou’s small body and patting her on the shoulder to calm her down.
‘After 5 more minutes was the teacher’s meeting time.’ ‘…spare me that.’ Yasuki could also hear this kind of exchange.
Adnou was in a daze during the exciting reunion,TL3 along with Kitaoka’s reason for being late, he couldn’t see her notice that Kitaoka’s shoes had changed. Andou’s sounded like she was about to cry, and just from that one could understand how anxious she was.
(They get along well, don’t they)
Yasuki pleasantly thought that while coming to his senses.
…surely Kitaoka wouldn’t like it if her friends knew about them being together, asking about this and that. It’s fine if she returns the sneakers later. Besides, if he’s too late this time it could be his companions saying ‘That guy, what was he doing?’
Yasuki left Kitaoka’s bags in a place where Andou couldn’t see, and without saying anything, he left.
From the back, he could still hear Andou’s shrill voice, “If you fuss that much, the teachers’ll hear,” he thought concernedly.
 : From Wikipedia: A gofer, go-fer or gopher is an employee who specializes in the delivery of special items to their superior. Examples of these special items include a cup of coffee, a tailored suit, and a car.