With his vision dim, he climbed the stairs using his senses and headed toward his classroom.
It seemed that the tournament had long ended. The school was completely deserted, the voices of the sports clubs and the practice of the wind instrument band resounded through the hallways and in the classroom itself.
He felt his way to the third year F classroom, and on the blackboard ‘We did it! Boys A team Victory’ was written in big letters with words and pictures covering the area around it.
(I see, they won…)
The G class that beat their B team didn’t seem to have won after all. Perhaps his classmates took advantage of him. He knew it was greedy, but he was somehow relieved.
He approached his desk by the window. On top of his desk was the backpack he used when commuting to and from school, and on top of that someone had lightly placed a piece of paper.
‘Yassan, are you feeling alright? I’m going to the afterpartyTL1, but if something happens call me, alright?’
While just about touching the paper to his nose, he was able to read what was written there. That writing is Katsuya’s.
Judging from the angle of the sun, it was about 4 in the afternoon right now. The ball tournament should have basically ended about 2 hours ago, so it might be too late for even the afterparty.
But where did his glasses go, he wondered. He searched the top of the desk, but he didn’t feel anything. Near the puzzled Yasuki’s ear, a familiar voice was caught.
He turned towards the sound. Around the entrance to the classroom there was a girl wearing a uniform. With her long hair swaying, she came toward him.
His heart thumped. When she stood in front of Yasuki, without any notice she took his right hand.
With a small sound, something was pushed into his hand.
“Glasses… I got them from Shin”
Hurriedly putting the things in his hand onto his ears, Kitaoka Ema was still out of focus watching him closely.
By Shin, she probably means Kimura. At the stiffened Yasuki, Kitaoka put the white plastic bag in her right hand on the desk with a thud.TL2
“Also, here. You missed lunch right? I’ll give it to you.”
He took the bag in his hands and readjusted it. Looking inside there was paper packed apple juice and two sweet buns.
Even if he said he didn’t need it, it would just be a waste of bread. He was getting hungry, so he just obediently accepted it.
“T-Thanks. How much was it?”
When he asked while looking inside his backpack for his wallet, Kitaoka answered in a quiet voice.
“…I don’t remember”
“But if we look at the receipt we’ll know, right? About 3〇〇 Yen?”
“It’s fine. …and anyways I owe you for the training camp. I’ll give it to you”
…the debt from then.. He thought they were even a long time ago though. Conversely, he had a feeling like he had bothered her a lot.
However, he felt like if he pushed the money onto her it would only make her mood worse. Just like that, Yasuki shut up without pushing it.
He thought to change into his uniform from his jersey, but he couldn’t really do that in front of a girl. For now he sat down in a chair and bit into the bread that she bought while Kitaoka, without leaving, sat in the chair in front of him and faced backwards.
He thought that she might have something to do, but she rested on her elbow and said nothing. Awkwardly sitting across from her, Yasuki started talking to her.
“What about the afterparty? Is it over already?”
“…midway through, but I left”
“Eh, Is that so. Sorry”
She informed him with discontent.TL5 Averia is a cheap family restaurant that’s a 10 minute walk from the school. After events or tests it was overflowing with students from the same school, so Yasuki also had thought he might go.
Just going there and back would take time. She said she was called to the counseling room, but whether she was just talking like she didn’t care about it or if she really didn’t care at all, he didn’t really know.
Suddenly raising his face, on the blackboard he saw “Boys A Team Victory.” The boys other team seemed like it did well, but the result of the girls wasn’t especially clear.
“Oh yeah. How did the girls volleyball go?”
Kitaoka immediately replied to his inquiry.
“We got to the semifinals, but we lost.”
“Ah.. I see”
Faster than he could say ‘That’s a shame,’ Kitaoka added on.
“Since you didn’t come.”
Glancing, he was being glared at with large eyes. However, just him not coming to see them shouldn’t have been able to lower the morale of the girls.
He understood it was a joke, but the fact that he broke his promise was true.
“…really sorry. I thought about going though.”
While he meekly apologized, the wrinkle in Kitaoka’s forehead disappeared and she spoke in a slightly gentler voice.
“It couldn’t be helped, right. You got injured after all.”
It’s true that ‘it couldn’t be helped,’ but if he had just noticed the ball a little faster then he wouldn’t be injured.
Anyways, at that time he was really uncool. However, the man that had gallantly appeared and carried him off–
“…My glasses were picked up by Kimura-kun”
Perhaps when he was carrying Yasuki, he realized the glasses had fallen and put them in his pocket like that or something. Yasuki felt like that was what happened.
He was grateful, but on the other hand he was unable to hold in his bitter mumble. Kitaoka answered calmly as if he hadn’t changed at all.
“Yeah. It seems like he came to the same place as my friends. We were separated from them so at first I didn’t notice at all, but in the aisle he said ‘Here, it belongs to a guy in your class.’”TL6
The story is greatly abbreviated and it’s hard to understand who she’s referring to, but the point is ‘at the family restaurant we went to for a celebration, Kimura-kun also coincidentally went to with his friends. Then when she left her seat he gave her the glasses,’ is probably what was said.
She was supposed to have broken up with ‘Shin’ but even now they’re still in the habit of addressing each other in that way. Maybe this girl still has feelings for him…
(Well, I’m not involved though)
He hurriedly shook off these thoughts, and emphatically bit into the second bread. While Yasuki felt eyes on his forehead, Kitaoka asked like she had just remembered.
“Iijima, did the ball really hit you in the head?”
Yeah, he nodded, and the girl sitting in front of him suddenly burst into laughter like she was having fun.
“You really caught it. Shin said ‘It looked like he went to run into it,’ you know. Why didn’t you get out of the way?”
“It’s not like that. There was a girl right there…”
To Yasuki’s explanation, Kitaoka raised a high voice like that was impossible.
“Really? But you could have both avoided it. Not that I believe it though.”
It wasn’t really an exaggeration, so Yasuki was also sullen. Of course he wished that he could have reacted a bit quicker, but this was the reality. However, it was to save someone else so it was unreasonable for unrelated people to make a fool of him.
Moreover, this girl was talking like Kimura was making fun of him, but Yasuki was pretty sure he just meant to tell it like it was. They hadn’t exchanged many words when he was being carried, but he could tell that he wasn’t such a prick.
Basically he was definitely a great person. Not just on the outside, but also on the inside…
“He’s pretty cool… that Kimura-kun”
He muttered while being taken aback by how small he was to be jealous of such a person. Kitaoka answered lightly, absolutely not realizing Yasuki’s current state.
“Eh? Well, that’s true. His looks could be good”
…That lightheartedness is conversely disgusting. Ever since their relationship got more complicated, he’s supposed to only be able to see the bad sides, but nothing can explain the fact that he couldn’t continue without praising him.TL7
What kind of mental state does that girl have now, he wondered. Going against expectations, Yasuki finally raised this question.
“Why did you break up with Kimura-kun?”
At his question her eyes went wide in reply.
He was surprised at her reaction, and she frowned with all her might and spit out the sentence
“Breaking up and everything… We were never going out from the beginning though.”
Without realizing it, he let out a strange sound. He shot back a question without trying to conceal his confusion at her bombshell statement.
“Is that true?”
“It is. Do you have evidence somewhere that we were going out?”
“But.. For example, from the start of the year you two were always together…”
“Being together all the time doesn’t mean anyone’s going out though. Aw, come on. This is why otakus are problematic.”
From about the start of second year until the third year until the third year midterms, whether it was during break times or heading home, he saw the two of them talking prominently in the school.
That’s why he was basically convinced that the two of them were an item. There was no way that it was just him who thought this way. When he was in the Convenience store a bit ago there was the trio that he saw. If they all knew then he thought that everyone probably believed the same thing.
Yasuki’s mouth hung open, while Kitaoka explained like it was a pain.
“That guy… Shin’s mom and my mom, in high school they were classmates and friends, so when we were little we lived in the same neighborhood and would play at each other’s houses all the time.”
“Aren’t you childhood friends then? Isn’t that the pattern where love sprouts easily?”
He didn’t know that much about it but, Katsuya has passionately told him about ‘The importance of childhood friend characters in light novels and eroge.’ He didn’t know how it was in real life, but with such a good looking guy next to her, it wouldn’t be unnatural if love blossomed between them (He had a feeling).
“Like I said… It’s not like that!”
Kitaoka got irritated and raised her voice. Why is she so bothered by this, he wondered?
Yasuki could only sit and gape, so she let out a sigh and took a large breath before mutterning.
“The person that guy likes isn’t me, it’s my older sister.”
Eh, he seemed like he would say yet again. He hurriedly shut his mouth and gauged Kiatoka’s attitude, while she kept talking like the dam had burst.
“Ever since he was little he’s been all like “Risa-chan, Risa-chan” since he really loved her, you see… And this year it looks like he got that fever all over again; he keeps asking me ‘How’s Risa-chan been recently?’ It seems like he was bothered by the girls approaching him, so when they asked “Are you and Kitaoka dating” it he didn’t deny it”
‘It seems like he was bothered by the girls approaching him’ somehow seems like such a luxurious thing to say, but since Kimura was popular and good looking he could only nod in agreement. Rather than having to reject the girls one by one, there’s no trouble if he tells them he has a girlfriend and both sides might be able to move on without any hard feelings.
Yasuki pushed his gloominess away,TL8 and Kitaoka continued her story.
“So, before summer it seems like he made his move with my sister, and after that he suddenly quieted down and stayed away a bit more.”
“So then, basically…”
“Who knows? Maybe it went well?”
She curtly ended the story. Either way, it doesn’t matter to her. She’s not involved, she seemed to want to say.
It took Yasuki a moment to process this unpredictable situation. Kitaoka’s older sister. He didn’t know just what kind of woman she was, but for that Kimura to be so infatuated with her, he had a feeling she wasn’t some ordinary woman. Anyway, if it seems like it went well then that’s fine.
In the conversation just now, he wondered if the biggest part wasn’t the fact that she was a little sister.TL9 Kimura just took advantage of Kitaoka and the result was her being labeled as ‘Kimura’s leftovers’ and the like.
He didn’t think she was soft enough to silently tolerate it after being manipulated to that extent. ‘Could this mean…’ Yasuki worked through this idea slowly.
“Kitaoka, what about you? Didn’t you like Kimura?”
If she liked him then she might have a feeling like ‘As long as we can be together then it’s fine,’ or ‘I want to be helpful to him,’ he thought. If that’s actually the case, then he couldn’t really feel too bad for her.
For a moment it looked like she was thinking about saying yes, but she immediately took on a stern face.
“…why are you asking me that?”
Yasuki fumbled his reply. His reason for asking about Kitaoka’s true feelings was, if he had to come up with one, just curiosity and nothing more.
He just got carried away and asked something weird. Even though he was an outsider with no relation to it at all. Especially since rather than prying into this girl’s private life, it being none of his business is the best part.
A suspicious look was thrown his way and his back stiffened suddenly. Kitaoka turned her face downward and squeezed out in a shaky voice
“…anyway, my relationship with that guy isn’t like that at all, and I never had any intentions like that. Being misunderstood though is super annoying.”
He apologized in a small voice and, almost like the sound didn’t reach her ears, she ignored him and pulled her smartphone out from her uniform pocket. Operating it with one hand, she muttered while looking at the letters written there.
“It’s from Miyu… I have to go”
With a “Well then,” she quickly stood up. Then her short skirt waved as she quickly tried to leave. Now he’d done it. She’s definitely mad.
As she was leaving he only saw a little of her expression, but rather than angry she looked sad. Seeing that silent, lonely sort of look, Yasuki called out to stop her in haste.
Kitaoka stopped. Although he tried to stop her, it wasn’t like he forgot to say something to her.
However, he didn’t want to let her leave with a face like that. Right now her back was facing him, but whether by a joke or banter he wanted to see her smile one more time.
“Thanks for my glasses and the bread. You really saved me”
As he conveyed his heartfelt gratitude, her shoulder quivered.
“Also, sorry for not coming to watch the match. I really did intend to go this morning.”
His spirit was dampened by chance when he met the trio and ended up causing him a setback. But up until he went to the convenience store he was thinking he would try to drop by the gym. This was the truth.
That’s why if this were to damage her trust in him, that would be a misunderstanding. It’s not like he forgot her promise with him.If she was blowing through the court, seeing that would have been pretty fun. He thought that if the foul ball thing didn’t happen, then along with Yasuki and everyone else from the class, he would have gone to the match in the afternoon.
Kitaoka slowly turned to the side. That facial expression somehow seemed to reveal a fatigue.
A small voice reached his ears. Did she just say ‘head?’
A few moments before he could ask, she continued her words.
“Be careful. Because everyone’s worried”
While saying that in a shrill voice, Kitaoka put the classroom behind her on quick feet.
The left behind Yasuki just stood there in a daze for a little while. When he realized it, the orange sun was setting, making the shadow of his desk grow longer and longer.