There was a public library situated not too far away from the train station.
The building that was located next to it was a conversation room.There were tables and chairs laid out at a corner in a neat and clean manner. Probably because there weren’t many people around us, there existed a silent atmosphere between us. At that point, we just remained seated there, while letting the silence take over.
A little earlier——
After having gone through that shocking encounter, we finally met up with each other.
“Why did you have to pull such a ridiculous prank?”, Although I had really wanted to protest, the sudden shock easily doused my rage. Chiaki had conveniently changed the topic, “It’s too noisy here, let’s go somewhere else first.” and so I obeyed her and left.
I had originally wanted to seize that opportunity to chat with her…
“Can you please wait until we get there? Moving this wheelchair while talking to you is quite difficult.”
She used her cold voice to flatly decline me. And when I tried to help push her wheelchair——
“Don’t trouble yourself.”
She harshly denied me. You don’t have to be a debbie downer.
Having endured that awkward silence, we finally arrived at our destination. After having ensured that her wheelchair was properly secured, I sat down in the chair across her. Alright, let’s think carefully about what I should be doing next. Should I say something funny? That kind of thing is something tomorrow’s me would be good at.
Just as I was thinking about these trivial matters.
“Now then, would you please bring out some proof?”
“Proof. That’s what I was told earlier.”
“Y-Yes, that’s right.”
The young lady suddenly directed those words at me. She spoke without an ounce of emotion, without wavering, all the while looking right at me. If I remember correctly, Hikari Yumesaki’s diary entry did mention something about this.
“All I have is… this.”
I pulled out the Exchange Diary #1 and placed it on the gleaming table.
“Allow me to have a look.”
I observed her quietly as she used her incredibly slender fingers to pick up the notebook, and thought back to another thing.
“There’s something that you should take with you, something that’ll prove your personality switch! This is all that I’m asking you to do!”
The day prior, Hayato had sent that email to me. In order to ensure that I wasn’t lying, I had to show some evidence. So,that was a certain requirement.
However the problem was that, I couldn’t find anything that could be used as proof. At first, It was supposed to be someone Hikari Yumesaki knew before she died, but convincing a complete stranger was rather difficult. After racking my brain for a while, I pulled out the first exchange journal which we had finished and no longer used. However, it was a little weird to say that this could be used as proof.
“Is this an exchange journal?”
“Yep, the left side is me, the right side is the other me, Hikari Yumesaki, what both of us wrote.”
“I see. So this was how you communicated.”
“Is there some other way?”
She pulled out a certain object from the pocket of her jacket, her eyes were still devoid of emotions. It was a recording device with earphones attached. Ohh, so there was also this method.
“Please wait a moment.”
She spoke tersely , and started to read the journal.
Ugh…I was mentally prepared for this, but it was still quite embarrassing…
Even though there was no other option, I was still very unwilling to let others read that exchange journal. After all, it contained stupid words like ‘virgin’ and ‘cow’. In fact, the real reason for Hikari Yumesaki’s death was written at the end of the journal, because of her fujoshi tendencies, and this startling eye-opener left Kazeshiro dumbfounded, who even yelled out, “What the hell!”
Because of these reasons, every time she flipped the page, I couldn’t help but break out in cold sweat, so in order to divert my attention, I began to size her up.
Her age—was probably similar to mine. Her hair looked soft and supple, her body seemed nice and slender, and extending out from her mature-looking clothes were delicate fingers that looked like they would easily break. However, what captured my attention the most was definitely her face.
(She really is a stunning beauty…)
Long eyelashes embellished her ice-cold eyes, and her small lips left you wondering how her smile would look like, truly breathtaking.
Kasumi-chan, Misaki, as well as Hikari Yumesaki; I could say that I was familiar with cute girls, but it was rare to have been able see a girl as beautiful as this. In fact, I felt that she gave off the vibe of a queen, popular within a certain group of people. Alright, from now on, your nickname would be “Your Highness.” But if I were to say that, I would probably be killed.
Just as I was letting my thoughts wander, the eyes that were filled with intent looked at me.
“Looking at your journal, it looks like your other half is a female.”
“Mm, you’re talking about Hikari Yumesaki, right? She’s a second-year high school student, like me.”
“So this means that you’re the owner huh.”
Owner? Did she mean the person who owns this body?
“That’s right. Hikari Yumesaki passed away in the first week of April this year. At the same time that happened, Hikari Yumesaki’s soul had transferred to my body, Akitsuki Sakamoto’s. From then onwards, we switch personalities every other day. You can think of it that way.”
“…Can you tell me more about your circumstances?”
She spoke in a professional manner. “O-Okay.” I replied at once, I felt slightly nervous as I continued the explaination.
On a certain rainy day in April, Hikari Yumesaki died because of a foolish reason right in front of me. And then a mysterious person wearing a black robe appeared in front of me, asking if I would give up half my lifespan. As a result, Hikari Yumesaki’s soul was transferred into my body. Every morning at 4:59 AM, we would switch personalities, and we went on with our chaotic, everyday life. However——
“One day, the time I switched with Hikari Yumesaki was early by five minutes…and now it’s normally thirty minutes earlier.”
“……So you’re just like us?”
Like us, in other words.
“I never thought that there would actually be others like us…”
Chiaki said that, then closed the journal, and carefully placed it on the table. She gazed coldly into my eyes, it felt almost as if she was saying, “Politeness? What’s that?” and continued speaking with an apathetic voice:
“Allow me to explain myself, My name is Chiaki Tsukimura. Five months ago in May, just like you, I found myself switching personalities.”
May. Hikari Yumesaki passed away on April 8th, so they’re our juniors by about a month?
“It all started because my childhood friend——Hayato Hyuuga passed away.”
Her long eyelashes hanged down as she explained. So it seems that Chiaki was the host, and every other day Hayato would occupy her body huh? Having looked at their gender, she shouldn’t have been lying.
“Why did he pass away?”
Ah, crap, I asked it too directly.
I didn’t even mean it, but the silent pressure had forced me to shut my mouth, and I gave up on asking further.
“At that time too, there was also a person in black robes who appeared in front of me, who told me, ‘How about you use half of your lifespan to save him——?’”
….Exact same line. I had also encountered a black robed bastard on that rainy day——
“As a result, Hayato resided in my body, and then we became just like you, switching personalities every other day. Although, we started switching every morning at 4:54 AM.”
“Not 4.59 AM?”
“It’s definitely 4.54 AM. Five minutes earlier than you.”
Ah…so in other words, the time Chiaki and Hayato switch places was earlier than ours by five minutes. So this meant that–
While my mind had wandered off, Chiaki flatly interrupted my thoughts.
“Like you, the time I switch with Hayato has become earlier. While the time Hayato switches into me remains at 4.54 AM, the time I switch with Hayato–”
“…Has shortened by 30 minutes?’
“That’s the case.”
“After about 3 months into this switching of personalities, we realized this. By that time, it had already decreased by five minutes. Later on, when we realized it, it was already shortened by 30 minutes. Thus, the current time I switch places with Hayato is 4.24 AM.”
After that, Chiaki remained silent, and I used that timing to sort out my mind. First, timeframe wise, the ones who could meet were,
“Chiaki and me.”
“Hikari Yumesaki and Hayato.”
No doubt about that.
After that, it was the time when the personalities switched. Chiaki and I would spend the day, and go to sleep at night. So first, at 4.54 AM, Hayato would swap places with Chiaki, and 5 minutes later, at 4.59AM, Hikari Yumesaki would switch with me. In other words, I would only get five minutes to meet Hayato.
After that, analyzing the time we switched into Hayato and Hikari Yumesaki. They spend a day, sleep at night, and the next morning, because the time’s shortened by thirty minutes, Chiaki would swap with Hayato at 4.24 AM. Five minutes later, I would swap with Hikari Yumesaki at 4.29 AM. Thus, the time Hikari Yumesaki and Chiaki would meet was about five minutes. Damn it, it would have been best if Hayato and I were to talk to each other directly, but the conditions were unfavorable.
While I was pondering and sorting out my thoughts, Chiaki continued on,
“Once we knew about this, Hayato got anxious and started to look around for clues. My body’s a failure though, so I can’t move as I wish.”:
Failure–she calmly stated emphasized this term that was filled with bitterness. It probably had something to do with why she could only remain on the wheelchair.
Leaving this aside, I didn’t know Hayato, but anyone would feel anxious about this. Just a decrease of five minutes left Hikari Yumesaki in madness.
“So Hayato finally found us.”
“That’s the case. He seems rather happy, saying that he didn’t expect there to be someone like us. This might solve all the issues we have–or something like that. Actually, nothing can be sorted out.”
Chiaki said such cold, heartless words. Such a cold person…well, she’s right.
But I supposed I got the gist of things. In the early stages, Hayato did everything and looked into every piece of information. We started a little later, and there was a short time between the information we gave out and the time Hayato found it, probably because Hayato kept looking. In this sense, we’re really lucky. We really had to thank our lucky stars that he kept looking without giving up.
However, there was some things I was really suspicious about.
“Hey, can I ask about something?’
With the icy eyes staring right at me, I lowered my voice, and asked,
“Do you–know the method to revive Hayato?”
This was the biggest reason as to why we came here. Hayato said that he knew how to revive. However, why didn’t Hayato revive? They continued to live the life of swapping personalities every day. It’s thanks to this that we managed to know them, but it did seem weird.
I wanted to know the answer. I stared intently at the lips of Chiaki’s icy face.
“I can’t tell you.”
I nearly fell over. Hey–what does this mean?
“I do know everything about this method. However, I was instructed by Hayato not to say anything. He’s a smart one, so he definitely has some ideas. I got two missions for the day, one is to exchange information. The other–”
Saying till here, she paused, and stared intently at me.
“You may choose…whether to believe it or not.”
Don’t say such spiteful words with a sharp look…
“To be honest, I was shocked when Hayato suddenly told me to meet you. Couldn’t he meet you and see what’s going on by himself? He always likes to do such selfish things.”
The icy expression was showing a hint of displeasure.
Ah, eh? She’s not on good terms with Hayato?
“He’s curious as to what kind of person it is. A kid, old man, guy, girll…”
I glanced aside at her.
“–He’s a decent guy, right?’
She kept sizing me up, and clearly, her eyes were as frigid as the howling blizzard; I was completely nervous. Ugh…what’s with this pressure…
“That’s quite a barbaric looking hairstyle. Is it common nowadays? When meeting people for the first time, you should at least tidy up your appearance.”
She’s right, and I couldn’t help but shrink back. If my hair’s too short, I wouldn’t be able to cover my face though. I jhated it…
“Also, don’t you find yourself uncouth for putting your hands in your pocket and slouching as you walk?’
“You murmur a lot as you talk. Speak clearly.”
“Also, ease up on your facial expression as much as possible. It is unpleasant to be glared at by you.”
“I’m sorry…I was born with this face!”
My bad for having such a shocking face!
“…I see. That was rude, I suppose.”
She apologized proudly, clearly not sounding like she had any intention to apologize. Damn it…she’s so arrogant in her speech. Anyway, you were the one who played such a rude prank on me.
The awkward atmosphere kept lowering my HP value. Chiaki suddenly sighed, “Whatever”, and gave such a look, saying,
“Then, please listen to this.”
Saying that, she placed that thing on the table.
“Hm? A voice recorder?”
“As I had said, Hayato told me not to say anything. If you are to be trusted, I am to hand this over to you–so he requested.”
It seemed that through that conversation, I had gained her trust. Which part did I gain her trust in?
“I don’t know what he’s planning. To be honest, I have no interest at all. However, I don’t know what he is planning to use my body for, so I can only assist him.”
Chiaki noted with a stiff tone. Hm, seemed like they were on bad terms.
“Don’t be mistaken. I do not trust you. It’s simply that I don’t want to start anything troublesome and get complains from Hayato. Also, I have no interest in your objectives at all.”
“Heh eh, is that so~…”
She’s really vile tongued there.
“File 1 contains the message I left for Hayato. File 2 contains the message Hayato left for me. What’s for you to hear is in file 3. That contains the message Hayato has for you. Don’t mess it up.”
So they communicate this way. Well, it works.
“Then, please listen.”
She prompted me, and I put the earphone of the voice recorder (it’s a really old earphone…). Now then, here starts the important part.
This Chiaki just did whatever she wants, and was unreliable. Even I did not want to continue talk. Thus, I probably should pine my hopes on Hayato. Right, leaving Chiaki aside, the main thing’s to consider being friends with Hayato. It’s a little too much for me to be friends with such a girl.
With much expectation, I opened file 3. There was a mechanical creaking–and the playback started. The static rang at my ear, and then, as though trying to scatter it–
“Yahoooooo!!! Hello there!? Congratulations on passing your first test!!!!”
“Argh, what is this!?”
A sudden loud voice rang in my ear, and I hurriedly removed the earphone. Trying to shock me or what?
“Nice to meet you! If you’re hearing this now, it means you’ve gained Chiaki’s approval. Congratulations! Clap clap clap clap! I’m Hayato Hyuuga, the Chiaki Tsukimura tomorrow. Just call me Hayato! Please take care of me!!”
I heard Chiaki’s voice from the earphone, but the emotion within was vastly different. Erm? That one I know’s the same too. Are the dead always this lively?
“Let’s get straight to be point. You’re troubled that your buddy’s time is getting shorter, right?”
Yeah, that’s it. I came here to solve this.
“I did mention in the email that I know the way to solve this. However, there’s a problem with the process. I need your help to make this happen.”
So that’s how it was. Hayato knew, but couldn’t do it, and did not. That made sense. So, while looking for clues, Hayato found us.
“I’ll tell you the method. If what I got is correct, it should be able to settle the issue of the time shortening. Of course, you do want to know, right? Right?”
Of course. It’s because of this–
“But! There are conditions before I can tell you this–!!”
“I’ll give you five missions! Once you’re done with them all, I’ll tell you. This makes it interesting now, right? Teeheee!”
No no! What are you doing at this time…tell me already!
“But, well. I guess I’ll use my way to see if you’re reliable. So, I’m really sorry, but please play along. Now then, mission one! First ‘be friends with Chiaki!’. It’s simple right? Then, do your best-♪”
And so the voice recorder stopped here.
Eh, eh, what’s going on?
I cast aside my agitated feelings, and was left stunned. Hold on, this guy’s way beyond my expectations. Till this morning, I was wondering if the other party’s really kind and earnest. I thought they would continue to support each other, and work hard…
I glanced aside at Chiaki.
“What is it?’
One of them was a girl with a sharpened blade-like stare.
I looked at the voice recorder that had completed its mission and quiet down.
The other was a bastard who’s basically a genderbent version of Hikari Yumesaki.
“Is he for real…”
“What is it? If you are done hearing, please return it.”
“…You heard this message?”
“Yes. Just in case. So what?’
“No, well, he asked me to be friends with you…”
“…My apologies, but I have no intention of doing so.”
“I do not wish to repeat myself. Due to a certain reason, I have decided not to make friends.”
She immediately cut off my hopes.
Ah, I see. So mission failed.
“Just an advice. It is better for you to not interact much with Hayato. He loves doing strange things. What is he planning here?”
Saying this, she took out a pocket book from the bag of her wheelchair, and opened it before me, starting to read. She’s completely ignoring me here. For real?
“And one last thing.”
While I had such a thought, she opened her precious mouth again. Eh, last declaration? We just met.
“Leave this notebook with me.”
“At the very least, I’ll have Hayato read through this.”
I let out a displeased tone, but Chiaki zoned me out as though the conversation had ended.
“…The future sure looks bleak.”
“I’m thoroughly defeated.”
That night, Kazeshiro gave me a call out of worry, and I explained the situation to him.
After that, I continued to sit before Chiaki for about an hour, but her attitude was scarily cold. Even I was starting to wondering ‘even a crawling insect would have smiled or something’?
Even when I tried talking to her.
“I see.” “That’s amazing.”
She merely said those words. Finally, I could not bear this overly heavy atmosphere, and bade farewell, saying, “That’ll be all from me today…” I left dejectedly. I never thought we would be such loggerheads.
“Why is Chiaki sitting on a wheelchair? Bone fracture?”
“I never asked at all.”
“I can’t do anything about that! She was literally zoning me out!”
How was I supposed to ask, “You fractured a bone? Does it hurt?”
“So, you never asked anything about the reason why she’s sitting on the wheelchair, what Hayato’s planning, and how to revive Hikari.”
Kazeshiro asked chidingly, and I could only apologize. However, that queen’s really hard to conquer. That’s not a character to be conquered. Where’s the add-on patch!? Where do I download it damn it!?
“Well, I’ll just keep working at it. We got no other clues other than them.”
“I guess. If anything happens, call me immediately. I’ll help.”
Saying that, I hung up the phone.
I collapsed head first into the bed. Damn it, I thought I found a compatriot, but something unexpected happened. Hikari Yumesaki and I are the normal one when compared to those two.”
“I got nothing. Think of an idea for me, Hikari Yumesaki.”
I put down the cellphone, flipped through the notebook, and practically prayed.
To be honest, it’s impossible for me to be friends with Chiaki. So,
“Hikari Yumesaki, try hearing something from Hayato.”
I wrote down the shocking parts of the day, and left everything to the me tomorrow.
From the recordings, it seemed Hayato should be easier to deal with. In that case, if Hikari Yumesaki, who’s better at communicating, take action, I might be able to get something. Please, finish this mission.
“Hikari Yumesaki. You changed my everything.”
It’s because of you showing up beside me that I started to like myself a little. If you take over, surely it’ll succeed.
So I drew a detailed map on the notebook, wrote down the order to change the buses, and Chiaki’s appearance characteristics. Should be fine. I just needed to help Hikari Yumesaki meet Hayato.
“Please, Hikari Yumesaki.”
“Chiakin’s so cute—!! I wanna be her friend!! I’m gonna conquer her no matter what! Sakamoto, make sure you be friends with Chiakin!! I made a promise with to meet her tomorrow!”
“Ehh, I have to meet her again…”
Damn again, again with these unnecessary dates.
“More importantly, what did you learn from Hayato?”
Two days later, I woke up, and immediately opened the journal, flipping through it.
“Well, Hayato just wouldn’t talk. I kept trying to ask, but he kept saying ‘it’s a condition to be friends with Chiaki’. As for the reason why they’re on the wheelchair, he wanted us to ask Chiakin.”
“So no can do?”
I guess so. It seemed Hayato’s really insistent on having me be friends with Chiaki. What’s he planning on making me do.
“Bu-but, I asked about how Hayato died! He said he had a sudden heart attack during club activity! He said it really–hurt! Really a painful death. It hurt when Hikari here died too. But I did anyway.”
“Stop talking like you’re both zombies or something.”
I tried imagining two young people discussing ‘it hurt when I died’, and for something, I thought I was going insane.
“Leaving this aside, Chiakin’s really cute! Her smile’s angelic!”
Unfortunately, the Chiaki on my side’s automatically locked into scowling mode, so I never saw it.
“And…fufu. I asked Hayato to touched Chiakin’s…they’re soft❤ Ehehehe.”
I’m so envi…no no no, don’t think of such unnecessary stuff!
“Also, Hayato’s really a decent person! I chatted a lot of interesting topics with him, and it’s like he’s a manzai actor! His personality definitely makes him popular. Fufu, if you don’t practice your humor here, Sakamoto, Hikari’s going to run away, you know-♪”
Like I care.
Not bad. It seemed Hikari Yumesaki and Hayato were on very good terms. Chiaki and I were in the ice age.
“Anyway, it does look like there’s no other way other than having you get on good terms with Chiakin. I asked Hayato to let Chiakin meet you, so do your best! Fight on!”
After that, it was a plan Hikari Yumesaki came up with called the ‘★How to Conquer Chiakin★’. She filled an entire page, even drawing illustrations of Hikari Yumesaki in cheerleading outfit shaking the pompoms.
“So I have to do this myself? I get it.”
So, Akitsuki Sakamoto’s conquest log of Chiaki Tsukimura again began.
Ahh, I had a bad feeling about this…
I was hoping if Mars could drop out of a sudden, but unfortunately, such a coincidence could not happen. I could not find a reason to refuse, so after school, I rode the train towards Kanagawa without changing my clothes. One hour later, I reached my destination.
We met at the discussion room next to the library. She was already there, waiting for me…and obviously, she was on a wheelchair, looking at the pocket book with a gloomy look. Ughh, it’s scary.
“Yo, we meet again–”
“Don’t be mistaken. It’s only because Hayato bothered me to go that I came here. I wouldn’t know what he’ll use my body for if I didn’t. I have no choice.”
Before I could complete my greeting, Chiaki rattled off in rapid fire. Ugh, it’s like she got this prepared for stabbing me. Even the ‘I have no choice’ part was really emphasized!
“Hayato left a message for you. Here.”
Saying that, she handed me the voice recorder. Yes yes…I muttered as I received it. I then handed over the hot red tea I bought from a vending machine. She’s cold.
“Hm? Red tea.”
“Why give this to me?”
“Because I think it’s cold.”
Hm? What’s with the strange expression? She’s going to complain saying that she wants coffer? If she actually said such selfish things at this point, i would have stormed off without a word.
“So, I remember file 1 is?”
“1 is the message I leave for Hayato, the message Hayato left for you is in 3. Don’t be mistaken.”
Right right, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I nodded, trying to shake off the gloominess, put the earphone into the recorder, and opened file 3. Right, I had to lower the volume. That loud booming voice’s definitely going to be squabbling,–
“Yahooooo!!! We meet again☆. Hayato coming up!!”
Ahh, you’re noisy! Share some of your enthusiasm to your partner!
“Ehehe, how’s my princess today? Rather interesting, isn’t she?”
“What’s interesting about this…”
I couldn’t help but grumble. The moment I said that, I met those icy eyes, and swallowed the rest of my words. Yes yes, she’s interesting.
“Anyway, try your best to get along with her~ She might not look like it, but she gets lonely easily. Make sure you get her by this weakness! Show me how understanding you are here!”
After this message ended, I removed the earphones. Damn it, there’s nothing useful at all.
I lifted my head, and I guess it’s because it’s cold that the princess before me was having a fight against the ring of the can. After she finally did so, she turned towards me–
“It is just Hayato’s mistaken bias in thinking that I get lonely easily. Please forget about those words.”
She actually wanted me to correct this. Such a proud person…
After saying those words, Chiaki again opened the notebook and started reading. What do I do next?
I was frustrated, but I had a way. I rummaged through the bag, took out the journal, and flipped to the ‘★How to Conquer Chiakin★’ entry, and reread the content.
“Relax, Sakamoto, Hikari here loves kuudere (cold and dere), and no way will she lose to anyone here! Thus, Chiakin’s considered conquered!”
First off, where’s the dere for Chiaki? We got to discuss about this.
“One of the basics to conquering her is to praise her! If there are options, choose the best option. This is the key to unlocking the H scene!”
“This isn’t an eroge.”
But praise really is a basic. There’s probably no girl out there who hated to be praised. If there’s something I have to praise out of a sudden, I guess the only thing I can think of is about appearance.
Well, take it one step at a time. First, time for some a little more normal–
“Ah, now that I realize, your hair’s really pretty. Really–”
“Is that so?’
Try showing a little happiness! At least some shock! She remained unmoved and continued to read the book…ehh, I wanna give up!
“Nice voice. Very crisp.”
“Is that so?”
Don’t be scared! I wanna cry! At this moment, I should be looking at Hikari Yumesaki’s entry,
“Next, conquest basic two! Holding hands isn’t a bad thing, but let’s do body touch! A girl feels at ease when being touched by a guy! This might be an Olympian hurdle for a virgin like you, Sakamoto! Make sure not to drop any saliva or anything strange like that!”
“I won’t do such a disgusting thing!”
It’s rare for Hikari Yumesaki to give me some suggestions, so I guess it’s fine to try it out. It’s not that my hands and heart are shaking because it’s a girl’s hand, not because I’ll lose myself to giddiness once I touch that hand. I won’t think of such virgin things. But since this ties into our fate, I could only go on with this!!
“Ah, ah, your hands are pretty too.”
“I wanna touch…”
And so Sakamoto naturally (naturally?) requested for a body touch.
However, Chiaki remained wary of me, and kept staring at me. She then took out something from the bag hanging on her wheelchair. Ah, isn’t that our exchange journal?
Eh? What’s she doing? I stared at Chiaki skeptically, and saw her open it–
“”So there’s such a thing in the dustbin! Please save paper!””
Th-that’s the journal entry Hikari Yumesaki wrote down…!
““Rule number 4: Handling biological needs! Only once a day!””
““You’re the type to get stiff watching ero anime?””
““I cut your fingernails for you.””
Chiaki gave me a condescending look, as though I was a middle aged man walking into the AV section.
“So you want me to touch those filthy hands? Such a lewd man. How disgusting.’
She gave said. Uuu…but, but…
“And also, I heard that you touched my chest while I was not the dominant personality.”
“No! That wasn’t me! It’s Hikari Yumesaki!”
“That Hayato said that Hikari Yumesaki told him “Sakamoto ordered me to check the softness” so he had no choice but to let Hikari Yumesaki touch them. Such a despicable person.”
The queen’s condescending eyes left me unable to summon any courage to argue, and I lowered my head. Anyway, was it my fault…?
After much setback, the atmosphere was dead, and so, I couldn’t become friends with Chiaki. I could only return. Just to note, the conversation I had with Chiaki was,
“Do you like books?”
“If you don’t, don’t read.”
The conversation was as dry as a dried sardines in the desert.
This wasn’t what I was asking! It-it’s just some method to try to establish a conversation.
“What do I do now…”
I was on my way home, and it was cold and windy. I muttered as I looked up at the sky.
Ah, I forgot to take my notebook that’s with Chiaki.
“Hmmm, she’s a tough cookie. But there’s more worth in trying to conquer her whe it’s more difficult.”
“It’s your fault that I got a bad end.”
Two days later, on Thursday.
I wrote down my utter defeat on the journal two days ago, and Hikari Yumesaki’s reply had me wanting to retort, ‘whose fault do you think it is’, and yet gave me hope.
“But it’s fine! Hikari has a genius brain, and has thought of a wonderful plan. I got a helper, and spent an entire day practicing it to perefcting. Work with them, and surely you’ll be able to get on well with Chiakin!”
What’s going on? I read on with skepticism. Written there was,
“Conquest three. Show her how cool you are.”
Written at the back was the strategy for the day–
“…We’re really doing this?”
After school, I again took the train to Kanagawa. Again, I arrived at the old place–the discussion room next to the library, and sat opposite the domineering princess who was enjoying her book.
“It’s so cold today. Don’t make me go out all the time. My legs today are aching.
“Don’t say that. Here.”
The appearance and thickness of Chiaki’s legs were no different from usual, but she couldn’t move (though for unknown reasons). Those legs felt unbearable to me. I bought a handwarmer at the convenience store, and handed that along with the red tea. She’s prone to anger, but seeing how she went along with our stubbornness, she’s probably decent.
“…Hmp. Hayato left a message for you. Hear it.”
I received the voice recorder I was very familiar with. Erm, that’s file 3, right?
“What are you doing, Akicchi!! I heard from Chiaki that you sexually harassed her instead of making friends! I heard you touched her and made her angry!”
“It’s a fact that you wanted to touch me, no? With that intention, it is as though you touched me.”
No, it’s too much of a stretch…
“Hey hey, pull yourself together~ I won’t tell you how to revive if this keeps up. I’ll say this, that the difficulty of the missions will increase. You understand what I mean here, Akicchi?”
You got to be kidding me, right? Making friends’ the easiest part here? What do you mean? Some unsolvable game?
And so, after hearing this short message, I returned the recorder. Chiaki again got down to reading the book, as though say that her mission was done. Ugh…she’s so aloof.
But starting the next day, the situation’s going to change. Likely, right about–
“Hey! Stop resisting. Come here!”
“…It’s a little noisy.”
A growl echoed suddenly. Chiaki and I turned around to look in unison. There were two guys in front of the wide grassy patch before the library.
“Hey, come here! Have a two shot with me! Stand up, kid!”
“I-I don’t want! Don’t be violent–kya!”
A pitiful looking boy was knocked aside by a tall guy, and collapsed onto the floor.
Right, standing there was the mohawk who became my disciple for some reason, and Kinoshita who has the appearance of a pretty boy, but was a lovesick girl inside.
“A-a commotion! Chiaki, I’ll go stop it now!”
“Don’t worry. I’ll help anyone I see who’s in trouble! (Charges).”
So I said such a cliche line, and ran towards the duo.
…Right, I guess everyone could see from how confident I was. Everyone was part of the “Chiaki’s Conquest plan: Sexy Dream won’t die again.” I guess there’s nothing more to this slogan.
The plan’s simple.
I would beat down mohawk, who’s trying to woo Kinoshita, and have Chiaki change her view of me, “Amazing! I misunderstood you! Let’s hug!” Well, this would be something heroic only Hikari Yumesaki would think of. I was skeptical as to whether this operation would work, but it seemed they kept practicing it for an entire day. With those two really giving their all, I really couldn’t bring myself to refuse. So I came here.
However, there was something I was worried about.
“Hey! Stand up! Take a two shot with me!”
Mohawk’s still fine. I really wanted to snark “You’re still insisting on a two shot”, but whatever.
The problem was–
“No! So-somebody save me!”
The pretty girl–actually a pretty boy had tears on the face, and was so agitated, but I just sensed something was amiss.
“I said I want them to conquer a girl, and they agreed happily!” Hikari Yumesaki wrote on the journal. I remembered that Kinoshita likes me, but he’s willing to help hook me up with another girl, which seemed suspicious. After I got harassed by him, I always had to watch my back to prevent him from attack. Really, I had enough. It would be great if he gave up on me.
But leaving those things aside, the most important thing would be to complete the mission.
I cast aside all random thoughts, ran towards them, put my hands on my hips as I stood before Mohawk, and yelled,
“Hey, stop this! I won’t allow anyone to bully the weak!”
“Who-who are you!? If you do not please move aside, I’ll beat you up!”
Hey Mohawk! Why the formal language now! You’ll ruin everything, you idiot!
“S-save me, bro!”
At the same time, Kinoshita was clinging behind me, as scripted.
Ah, nice smell…no no no! He’s a guy! Gotta pull myself together!”
“Mohawk, you dare do this to such a pitiful boy…such inappropriateness! Take this!”
And so, I followed the script, and punched Mohawk in the face (of course, it’s faked).
Then, Mohawk got punched hard by me—
Uh, eh? Mohawk?
Why aren’t you moving? You’re supposed to be punched away now, right? What’s wrong?
“(Eh, Sakamoto, I remembered you should be shouting ‘Sexy cute punch!’ as according to script, right?)”
“(Just forget about that line!)”
Don’t mind the details!
After an unnaturally long time.
Mohawk timidly retreated, shouted, “I’m remember this.” And bowed before leaving. You’re too unnatural for a delinquent…
“You-you fine there?’
But Mohawk’s bad acting didn’t deject me. I kept acting, and glanced aside at Chiaki. I saw her come outside with a surprised look, and was looking at us. Once I was sure of this, I gently carried Kinoshita.
“I-I got saved! Thanks!”
So ended the scene. Chiaki probably had an improved impression on me. Now, all I have to do is to use this chance—
My lips were stuffed.
Who? It’s from the boy hugging me
After more ten seconds, the face that touched my lips was smiling several millimetres away from my face.
His eyes were as dark at the bottom of a well, as though saying these words,
“I won’t hand you over to that woman. I’m showing it right here.”
Wait–!? This kid’s been planning for a homerun the entire time!
I hurriedly looked away from Kinoshita, and locked onto Chiaki, but it was too late.
Chiaki’s face was showing an unprecedented level of disgust.
“…So you do have such interests, huh? That’s why you excitedly went over to save her.”
“No, listen to me! This isn’t it! It’s a misunderstanding!”
“Speaking of which, when I first met you at the station, you did call a man cute…”
“…No! That was all you fault!”
Ehh listen to me! I said that’s not the case! There’s a lot of things wrong with this!
I frantically tried to explain, but Chiaki left without giving me a look.
Behind her was me, who was standing there blankly, and Kinoshita, who kept embracing me in ecstasy. Mohawk was slightly far away, doing single arm push ups, yelling “I didn’t see anything! I didn’t see anything at all!” Damn it…what’s with this bad end…
“How’s the taste LOLOLOLOL How’s the taste LOLOLOLOL That lovesick shota X teary delinquent LOLOLOL It’s here ROFLCOPTER”
“It’s all your fault, you idiot…”
Two days later, it was Saturday. The morning of this rest day was filled with painful memories. I was praying that I would forget once I woke up…but that feeling still…ugghh.
So, two days ago, when I dug up a hole I couldn’t bury, it was game over. The tragedy awaiting me was the dazzling desire of my little sister, “Brother, Kaoru called me! How’s the taste of kissing a guy”!?” A refreshing peach! Don’t remind me!
“This is terrible.”
Leaving aside the nightmare, I dared to conclude that I wouldn’t be able to make friends with Chiaki.
I thought it was terrible, but I really could not think of any way to settle this. I gave up, and wrote down on the notebook, “Anyway, I guess I should try telling Chiaki the truth. Failure doesn’t matter here.” And so Hikari Yumesaki answered me, “Hey, you’re really writing this?” why did it seem like she was angry?”
“It doesn’t look like things are going well, but Hikari won’t give up! I’ll ask Mohawk to attack Chiakin directly! Once Sakamoto saves Chiakin, the operation will be perfect! I asked Hayato to call Chiakin out to meet, so do your best”
“…Let’s do our best then.”
I stared at the notebook, hesitated a little, and made up my mind.
I made up my mind, and made a phone call to Mohawk.
He respectfully answered, and what I said to him was–
It was after 2.
I had a casual lunch, took the train like usual towards Kanagawa, and arrived at the discussion room beside the library I was gradually familiar with, finding Chiaki there, reading a book. Of course, she showed no reason even though she saw me.
“Yo, sorry for having you come out every day.”
“Yeah. You should be giving up.”
Chiaki flipped through the pages, the rippling sounds of the pages being flipped echoing her inner heart.
“Some delinquent with some strange hairstyle will be coming out today. He’s going to attack me now, right?”
So she saw through that? But it’s to be expected.
“No, he won’t be coming. I just refused him.”
I made a call to Mohawk, telling him to stop the plan. I said a lot of reasons, like something was exposed, didn’t seem like the plan would go well, but most importantly, it was that,
“This really doesn’t seem appropriate.”
I was really sorry to Hikari Yumesaki, who worked hard for my sake, but her methods were wrong.
I didn’t have to right to say this when I didn’t make a bosom friend, but this shouldn’t be how friends should be made. I had no intention of telling off Hikari Yumesaki, but in the end, she just wanted to create opportunities for me. I knew that.
If I were Chiaki however, how would I feel?
Some people wanted to be friends with her, but these people were only doing it for the sake of wanting to revive. Basically, wanting to make friends here would just be a mean. If I were the one being treated this way, it would be expected that I would be furious. Really, did Hayato understand these?
Having come to this conclusion, I decided to visit without making any plans. What should I do?
I put the talisman Hikari Yumesaki made for me on the palm, and sighed. If only I had that communicative ability of hers…sigh.
“Did Hikari Yumesaki make this?”
At sunset, the conversation began. It was rare to not have such an unpleasant feeling.
“Yep. She said it’s for good fortune.”
And so, I calmly answered. What Chiaki said next was really twisted. Certainly, she had some malice in her words as she said,
“You had it tough too. To be…possessed by a really boisterous person.”
Her words left me momentarily unable to say anything
…What did, she just say?
“My partner–Hayato’s the same too. It’s really tough having a partner do whatever he wants. Tormented all day long. You have it tough too, don’t you, Sakamoto?”
However, Chiaki probably did not care about what I was about to say as she continued on,
“I’ve read through the journal I borrowed from you. Looking it, it seemed she really didn’t care about bothering others, she’s selfish, does what she wants, and prone to tantrums. Speaking of which, is Yumesaki someone you willing gave up half your life for? To be honest, I really am not fond of her.”
“That’s true, but…”
“She took half your lifespan, but showed an unwillingness to vanish. Is her true personality not clear to see? She doesn’t want to disappear, and that’s why she’s panicking. She never thought anything about you. You really are a failure. You gave up half your life for such a person.”
“It’s time for you to stop. There’s no need to force yourself to revive her. Besides–”
I called out subconsciously.
I had to be friends with her. I had to be on good terms with her.
But even so, I still said it out.
“If you don’t know anything, don’t badmouth Hikari Yumesaki.”
Some silence, and the buzzing from afar reached my ear. Chiaki’s icy stare was piercing right through me.
I remembered something similar happening before; It was when Misaki was mocking Hikari Yumesaki’s actions. I could endure being mocked, but I would never allow anyone to mock Hikari Yumesaki. This time, Chiaki criticized Hikari Yumesaki, and I couldn’t stand that.
“…Here, read this journal.”
I took it out, and flipped it open. It’s the exchange diary we’re using at this point. It contained the messages Hikari Yumesaki left for me, and talked about Chiaki.
Actually, I left a suggestion to Hikari Yumesaki–that I might have to coerce her into saying the way to revive her. I had no other choice. I worked so hard for Hikari Yumesaki, and she wanted me to finish some missions. I was infuriated.
But the pretty words Hikari Yumesaki wrote with was,
“Thanks Sakamoto. I’m glad you’re saying such words for my sake, but please endure for now, and consider being friends with Chiakin. It’s just my guess, but I’m guessing they’re having some troubles at this point. Hayato once said, Akicchi might be able to save us, so listen to me, Sakamoto. Work hard for Chiakin. This is my request. It’s rare to be able to find someone in the same boat as us. Even leaving aside my revival, I want to help those two. I want to help our friends.”
I showed this long column before Chiaki’s eyes.
“And this too.”
I flipped to the next page, and again, there was the journal entry from Hikari Yumesaki,
“A-and also! I want to be friends with Chiakin as soon as possible! I want to discuss Sakamoto with Chiakin! She’s definitely a good. Kuuderes aren’t bad people! So please, Sakamoto! If it’s you, it’ll definitely succeed. Hikari believes in you! Let’s work hard together to conquer Chiakin!”
I flashed the journal to Chiaki, saw that she read it, and said,
“…She really does whatever she wants, likes to play pranks, and never thinks of the consequences. In any case, she’s a hopeless one. But, she’s really kind. Even when she’s dying, she’s still considerate towards others. She’s that kind of person, able to show such care and concern to you whom she never met.”
Chiaki remained wordless.
“And I know, Hikari Yumesaki’s antics–are all just her trying to act tough.”
Always doing stupid things to act tough, but she was utterly worried of her own future.
Sometimes, she might even go psychotic.
I heard from Madam Hinako that Hikari Yumesaki would hide the fact that she would return to the watermelon field from time to time.
Sometimes, I would see marks of erased works in the notebook.
Sometimes, entire pages were ripped off. Surely, she showed weakness–but she wanted to hide them all. Even when I asked her, “I spilled the coffee”, she would just pass it off as such. She’s definitely lying. If coffee really was spilled over, given her personality, she would not let it be.
She must be feeling really uneasy, even fearful.
However, whenever she saw someone in distress, she would put consideration to that person immediately.
She always prioritized others, and could not help herself whenever she saw others cry.
It’s because of this, that she became like this, supporting me for Chiaki’s sake. It’s because she’s such a person that I would continue to work hard, and not give up. I had to pretend not to see Hikari Yumesaki’s weakness, and ran about everywhere, acting like nothing had happened, that I did not see anything. This was the Akitsuki Sakamoto she wanted. It’s because Hikari Yumesaki’s such a person that I–
“Don’t badmouth Hikari Yumesaki if you don’t understand anything. She’s a kind person.”
For some reason, I choked. I said this, and lowered my head.
“…There’s no need to cry, is there?”
Don’t look at my fierce looks this way. I’m a crybaby.
I kept wiping my tears.
An awkward silence lingered between us. Unexpectedly, in such a mood, the one to first speak up was Chiaki.
“Had half of your lifespan taken by Hikari Yumesaki.”
She gulped, and said,
“Do you regret it?’
Regret. For some reason, that term sounded sad.
What did she mean by this sudden question? Probably about the matter of the shortened lifespan, or…never mind. In any case, the answer would always be the same.”
“Not at all. Not even once.”
It’s not a lie. Hikari Yumesaki’s worth giving half my life for. She changed my entire life. Even half my lifespan wasn’t enough. For Hikari Yumesaki, I–
Chiaki went silent, and lowered her head, her long hair covering her face, but I could see her lips quivering, as though she wanted to say something. ‘I suppose I overdid it’ she probably had such a thought–that was what I imagined. Of course, Chiaki was not so honest.
“I see. Well, whatever. It has nothing to do with me.”
She sulked at me, and said such deflating words.
Such a twisted person. Damn it…well, let’s go home early.
“Did Hayato leave a message for me?’
The atmosphere was as awkward as parents arguing. Chiaki handed me the recorder.
This helpless anxiety left me clicking my tongue lightly as I inserted the earphone, and played it. After hearing this, I’ll go back. Ah, got to lower the voice. It’s probably that yell or something.
“Now then, let’s start recording.”
While I had such a thought, an unexpectedly calm sounding voice rang.
What? A very formal greeting here? This certainly was rare–
“Sakamoto came by again on this day. I don’t know what you are planning, Hayato, but is it not time to tell them? It’s terrible to have them come here the entire time.”
“Also, Hayato, you kept worrying if Sakamoto is an annoying person, but there’s no need to worry about that. He’s kind, always giving me hand warmers and drinks and such. Also, once he saw that I had difficulty opening the can, he would open it before giving it to me. He really takes care of people will. I really do hope you learn from him. Fufu.”
Eh, ehhh…? Hayato?
“When we first met, I was really scared. However, I quickly understood that he’s a kind person. After reading through the journal shared by him and Yumesaki, I understood. Don’t you find it interesting? Sakamoto’s always being tortured…erm, that ‘use the mouth’ part is really interesting. Yumesaki’s definitely a nice person. Hey, Hayato. Mind telling me how Yumesaki is as a person?”
“More importantly, you should be telling them the truth. I have no confidence that I can be friends with them. I tried putting on a cold facade again today. I can’t do it. Even if I become friends, it’ll be like before. We’ll end up arguing because of my legs. I don’t want to experience that pain again. I rather not make friends. I can’t change myself.”
“And leaving that aside, i have reasons why I do not want to make friends. That day, I decided not to. Please, Hayato, understand me.”
“Sakamoto must be really desperate to save Yumesaki. Hey, you should tell them. I hope they will have a happier life. That’s what you’re hoping for, aren’t you, Hayato?”
“What’s the matter?”
I took out the earphone, and stared at Chiaki’s face blankly. She immediately asked with disgust, her voice as she frowned sounding the same as the voice from the recorder.
“…Ah, I remember it’s file 3, right?”
“Ahhhhh!!!! Yo-you heard it!?”
“Eh!? Ah, no! I didn’t hear anything! Nothing at all!”
Not good! I made a mistake! It’s an unprecedented crisis!
“I-i-is it 1!? Or 2!? Which one did you hear!?”
Ah, no, th-that, that’s–
“It-it’s 2! File 2, the message Hayato left for you–”
“Then tell me what 2 is about!”
Ah, not good. That, that…
“‘C-Chiakin…is cute~…’ or something…”
Ah, this is bad, really bad.
Chiaki shivered, her face was all red, and she appeared to be on the verge of tears–
“There’s no way Hayato will say such words!”
A loud sound struck at my eardrum, and even the air shook.
I-I was mistaken…
After that, Chiaki went silent, lowered her head, and her face was unbelievably red.
This is bad. This is really bad. I really should be laughing right now.
“It’s fine. Erm. That Hikari Yumesaki, she…”
“…Really loves kuuderes…”
And naturally, she threw the hand warmer at me with all her might.
“The name written in this notebook shall die after following Hikari-chan’s orders.”
“What’s with this out of a sudden?”
I think I heard of this designation somewhere.
“Akitsuki Sakamoto, I wanted to call Hayato, but I made a wrong call to Kasumi, and said ‘let’s go out and play together’! Let me touch your chest eheheh LOLOLOL’. Once you are done solving that mistake, die for Hikari’s sake.”
Anyway, leaving that aside.
A week later.
While I was about to forget about revealing Chiaki’s cute side, I was summoned to a large fancy mansion—the Tsukimuras.
“Your family’s rich. What do your parents do?”
“I’m not very sure. They’re always working overseas.”
We chatted as we entered the mansion that was installed with disabled facilities.
Why was it that when I asked to meet at the same place, this moody girl suddenly invited me to her house? Why was I being treated like a friend?
“Don’t be mistaken. I’m just taking the lesser between the failure to call you to my house, and having to endure the cold outside (stares).”
If she actually said such a tsundere line, I could understand. In fact, she said,
“It-it’s rare of you to come all the way here. So, erm, I want you to have some tea.”
“Did you hit your head on something?” So I asked without thinking.
But, I supposed I had an idea as to why Chiaki did this. The me on the previous day said,
“Hehehe! Sakamoto! You seem to be getting along with Chiakin better! Hayato looks really happy too! To make sure you two get along better, I told Hayato, ‘it looks like Sakamoto likes Chiakin, you know? He said he wants to huge her too’ Enjoy this kuudere☆”
Always with the unnecessary stuff.
It seemed this false intel went from Hayato to Chiaki, and she had been looking anxious all this while. Finally, Chiaki brought me to the guest room, muttering along the way,
“Thinking about it, inviting him here would get him hoping for something…wh-what…”
And so, we arrived in the guest room, sat down, and as expected, both of us went silent.
I stared at Chiaki’s blushing face, wondering if she probably wasn’t used to people saying that they liked her. I was the same when Kasumi confessed to me.
Chiaki played with her hair, trying to sound aloof. Well, let’s make this clear. It’s awkward.
“…That thing about me liking you is all Hikari Yumesaki’s lie.”
At that moment, she immediately threw the handwarmer she really liked at my head.
So it ended up like this?
“Anyway, hand me the voice recorder. I got to hear the message Hayato left for me.”
“…It’s number 3.”
Got it…after some smiles, Chiaki finally calmed down, and handed the earphone to me. I pressed the switch, and the greeting from the earphone was so similar to the voice of the girl before me; only the emotional state seemed completely different.
“Yooo—! This is Hayato! You seem to be doing well, Akicchi. But at this point, it does seem a little different from being a friend now. It’s more like a ‘I can leave my daughter with you’ phase, you know?”
Who knows? What are you talking about?
“But since you managed to successfully complete the mission, as reward, I’m going to tell you next next mission, you know♪ Mission number two! Call Chiaki directly by name! Nihihi, the mission difficulty will increase slowly, you know? But you should be able to handle this in a matter of seconds, right?”
“Isn’t this quite difficult…?”
This is mission two. How bad will the final mission be? Ask me to kiss Chiaki?
I took off the earphone, and looked at the girl before me, who immediately looked away. Ah, so she heard this recording too. Surely she’s going ‘I can’t do this’.
Leaving that aside.
It’s been weeks since I met Chiaki’s pair. At this point, I had yet to obtain any information on ‘how to revive’ that they knew.
From time to time, we would wake up early, and find that Hikari Yumesaki’s time did not decrease. As for what would happen afterwards, we wouldn’t know. Thus, this isn’t the time for meaningless missions.
“I know you are feeling anxious, but right now, do as Hayato says. Surely they have some troubles. Please, Sakamoto. Endure this for now, i’m fine.”
However, Hikari Yumesaki’s still putting others before herself. I wanted Hayato to ‘reveal a little more’! But since Hikari Yumesaki herself said so, forget about it. Yep. Chiaki was told by Hayato not to say anything, so leaving that aside, what’s Hayato planning for us to do? He’s ridiculous.
Anyway, there’s no progress.
On this day, I was seated before Chiaki, who was reading the book; I nibbled at a senbei, and placed a cellphone game until sunset. When I was about to head home.
“Please take this.”
Chiaki sent me to the corridor, and handed me a large black coat. Probably her father’s. Why this again,
“Yumesaki appears to have caught a cold. Be careful.”
“Ah, yeah, I see.”
I see. So Hikari Yumesaki’s not feeling well due to cold. But why didn’t Chiaki dare to look at me in the eyes, and she’s blushing a little. If I asked, I probably would incur her wrath.
“Come back again two days later………………….Akitsuki.”
…Ah, I see. So she’s helping me here?
“Understood. I’ll come back again……Chiakin.”
“Don’t add that part.”
Mission two complete.
“I couldn’t do the English mini-Test at all…I hate to take retests, so I tried to negotiate with the teacher, and got scolded…”
“That teacher’s always looking at girls in a perverted manner, so I tried to negotiate with upskirt photos…”
“Of course you’ll get scolded.”
Two days later, it was a stupid complaint of a journal entry, and I weakly retorted.
“But but, when I had Hayato teach me, I managed to solve all the questions! Hayato’s a super genius!”
“Heh, so that guy’s amazing at studies.”
That was too surprising. He clearly seemed like an idiot.
“Ehehe, so I asked Hayato out to play two days later, that he’ll teach me before we play games~ eheheh, Hayato and I really do get along. I’m looking forward to it~”
Surely Hikari Yumesaki looked really happy. They seemed to get along now.”
“And this will be it for today’s journal entry. Good night, Sakamoto! See you♪”
I closed the notebook filled with ramblings, and took out my cellphone.
I checked the call logs. Looking at it, it seemed she spent a lot of time talking with Hayato. After that, they were spent a long time exchanging emails—
…What’s with this feeling? Why’s that Hikari Yumesaki being so happy…
“You want to know about Hayato?”
It was after school.
I came to the mansion, met Chiaki in the guest room, and immediately asked this question.
For some reason, Chiaki seemed a little angry, but she rattled on,
“Hayato’s my childhood friend, lives nearby, and is of similar age, so we often played together when we were younger. There weren’t any other kids of similar ages nearby, so that’s all to it.”
Uh huh, so?
“Eh? That’s it?’
“What else do you want to know?”
No, say something else, like personality, likes, relationships with females!
“Why do you want to know about Hayato so much? Is there something—”
Suddenly, she seemed to realize something, took up the exchange journal of Hikari Yumesaki and me, and had a look at it. Ah, speaking of which, I should have her return it to me.
While I had such a thought, ‘I see.’ So Chiaki said, and suddenly giggled. Wh-what…
“Yes. Hayato’s called a genius.”
“He’s decent at sports, outstanding at studies, often at the top of the national mock exam rankings. He’s cheerful, and very popular with girls.”
Really? He’s popular with girls?
“But he’s a rowdy person, always a busybody, angering others. I thought he would reflect on things, but there will always be new squabbles the next day. He’s that sort of person.”
I see. He really seemed similar to a certain person.
“I really hate him.”
“It’s obvious why I would hate such a rowdy person. That sort of guy became my other half, and it’s terrible. Thanks to him, I’m in this state. It’s troublesome.”
I recalled the content of the file 1 I carelessly came upon. I recalled Chiaki badmouthing Hayato right from the beginning, but hearing that message had me thinking that they’re rather close.
“Well, I got no other choice here. I left half my body with him. If I don’t go along with his will, I don’t know what he’ll do with my body. Seriously, this is troublesome, really troublesome.”
“Ah, I see.”
I personally recalled the fear of leaving my body to the me tomorrow, so I understood Chiaki’s feelings.
So I kept staring at Chiaki.
On first glance, I saw that she was scowling at the book. But as I pricked my ears.
“What…you idiot…I said that’s a place that belongs only to the two of us.”
“I said I wouldn’t talk to him again…”
And so, from time to time, I would hear such muttering. After that, I recalled the content of the recordings I heard. I remembered Hayato saying this,
“Is Akicchi still energetic? Congratulations on finishing mission two! Leaving that aside, my body’s in fine condition today, so I went out on a date in this wheelchair with Hikaricchi. There’s a hill nearby with a nice sea view. The dazzling scenery as the sunset shines is really breathtaking! Chiaki likes this place, so I thought that since my body’s feeling a little better, I should bring her along~”
Yep, there’s probably something about this message. This kuudere princess being in such a bad mood probably is because of this, surely.
—I really hate him.
I recalled what Chiaki just said, and at the same time, I recalled this designation of kuudere I had for her.
Hm, but, I suppose I somehat understood that a pessimistic girl has a very sensitive heart.
“Time to probe a little bit.”
I muttered softly, with a voice Chiaki could not hear.
It’s a rare rest day with fine weather, and Hayato left a voice message for me,
“Yahoo! Kept you waiting, right? I’ll tell you mission three right now. Let’s get straight to the point now. You’re going to do a princess carry right now! Pretend to touch her butt! It’s soft!”
While I was feeling frustrated by such messages, Chiaki said that she had to go out to buy some groceries, so I went along. At this point, I thought I should push her wheelchair.”
“I shouldn’t be relying on others.”
She refused, and I could only walk by her side. I thought she hated the idea of owing others favour. But it seemed she really insisted that she would do whatever she could do.
After that, we arrived at a supermarket at the parking lots, one ridiculously big. It so happened that the lanes were wide, and most importantly, there was an elevator.
“What is it?”
“There’s an electronics department there.”
“My earphones seem a little old. Let’s go check them out.”
Chiaki turned her wheelchairs without a word before saying this. I guess it’s fine to go look for this, but I really found it hard to associate someone with this big mansion with earphones.
“This isn’t bad. Easy to us. I like it.”
Ah, I see. That’s good.
We wordlessly stroll through the supermarket. As we continued on, Chiaki asked,
“Did you make some rules? At that moment…”
I watched what she was holding with scepticism. It’s a bottle of shampoo refill. Ah.
“Hikari Yumesaki basically made the choices. Whatever she chooses, I use. No second thought about it.”
Why do girls really pay this much attention to shampoos? Isn’t it alright if that sort of thing can create bubbles? However, it seemed Chiaki was not trying to ask about this.
“No, this isn’t it. That…”
“Ru-rules of hairwashing, or something…”
Hm? What about that? What did she mean?
“I need to soak my body in the bathtub for more than a minute, that sort of thing, I guess? There has to be some rules with regards to that. She really seem to pay heed to what my little sister says, like, just a little soak, and it’s done. After washing, she’ll face the mirror naked, doing bodybuilder poses, and always get caught by my little sister…”
“This isn’t what I’m talking about!”
While I was dabbling away at my daily grumbles, Chiaki anxiously interrupted my words.
“This isn’t what I’m trying to talk about. Erm…”
“Rules of…being seen naked…”
…Ah, this is what you’re talking about.
Chiaki covered her blushing face with her silky hair, and from that, I seemed to realize something. I see. No, actually, I was curious about that too. It appeared they’re the same.
I was shy, and I didn’t think too much about it, but for two personalities of different genders in the same body, it meant that the other party would see, and touch various private parts. At first, I was embarrassed, telling Hikari Yumesaki ‘be careful of where you’re touching’. It’s Hikari Yumesaki though,
“Hehehehe LOLOLOL. I won’t touch, I won’t touch LOLOLOLOL. I never thought the cool delinquent’s thing is so small and cute, so relax. I never thought it’ll be so different from the appearance, but the gap moe is really too great.”
Hikari Yumesaki crushed my self-confidence, and severely dealt a blow to my soul. Ever since then, I would try my best never to talk about this again.
Leaving this emotional trauma aside, it seemed Chiaki had similar troubles.
“I’ve given up on it. That Hikari Yumesaki won’t follow the rules.”
“So you made some rules too?”
“Close the eyes when going to the bathroom or bathing…”
“…Did he follow the rules?”
Ahh, she’s blushing.
I guessed so. Leaving aside breaking the rules, whenever a guy sees a girl’s body—
“…It’s terrible. I had someone I hate see my body, and probably got touched…when he was alive, Hayato often flipped the skirts of girls…”
Chiaki grumbled in frustration. Hm, but she couldn’t do anything about it. If I’m to share the same body with Chiaki…I’ll probably do that doo.
But more importantly, it’s a rare opportunity, so I should have Chiaki be honest here.
“So you do hate Hayato after all.”
“Of course. That guy doesn’t understand a girl’s heart.”
“Hmph, I see.”
“He’s always lacking in delicacy since young. It’s really troubling. Back when we were in elementary school—”
“Enough with the memories. I see. So you hate him?”
“Yep. He might be the one guy I really hate on this world.”
“Eh, I see.”
…Right, time to settle this.
Okay, Chiaki. Show me your true self now.
“Speaking of which.”
“What is it?’
“Hikari Yumesaki once wrote something about Hayato on the journal.”
“Ah, probably some little things though.”
“No no no. Well, Hayato seemed to have said something really amazing.”
“?…What did he say? Don’t play around. Tell me.”
“Hm. Nothing much. Hikari Yumesaki said that—”
“Hayato—‘hates’ Chiaki, so she said.”
At that moment.
All confidence on Chiaki’s face vanished, and she let out a painful squeal.
Yep, too easy. How honest you are, Chiaki.
“Need me to say this to him through Hikari Yumesaki? That Chiaki ‘hates’ Hayato.”
“N-no, this is…”
“But this is hard to say by yourself, you know? Or is it better to make this clear?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll help you out.”
“I’ll say that—Chiaki really does like Hayato.”
Chiaki gave me a shocked look, and seemed to have realized something as she flusteredly looked away. However, it was all too late. She’s really someone worth teasing right now. My sadistic blood is awakened.
“…I’ll kill you if you say that.”
“You want to kill me?”
Wait, I guess it was because I was joking around with Chiaki, that I did not react to whatever she said next.
“…Don’t you like Hikari Yumesaki too?”
I carelessly loosned my hand, and the shampoo dropped onto the floor.
“I’m right, am I? ‘June 2nd, Sakamoto received a confession?’, and your answer was ‘just once, what about you’?’”
Ho-how did you remember it so clearly—!?
“HikarI Yumesaki’s answer is ‘Secret’, and your answer was ‘I’m not really curious about it, but whatever’.”
“Ahhhhhhh!! Don’t say it! Don’t say it!”
I regret that too!!
“‘I’m not really curious about it, but whatever’.”
“Stop! I beg of you!”
“‘I’m, not, really, curious, about, it, but, whatever’”
“I get it! It’s my fault! I’m sorry!”
Damn it…a perfect counter…
“…Keep it a secret.”
After that, Chiaki said to with the usual tender voice.
“You too. Understand?”
“That’ll depend on your performance.”
Ack…I was supposed to be on the attack, but why does it feel that I lost? Damn it, this shouldn’t be happening…ahh, it’s too embarrassing.
“Hey, hurry up and pay up.”
I put my hand on Chiaki’s wheelchair, trying to hide my own embarrassment, and pushed her off with my might.
With that, she wouldn’t be able to see my expression. If possible, I didn’t want anyone else to see how I looked.
For a moment, I thought she would be lashing out at me, ‘don’t do anything unnecessary’, but unexpectedly, she did not say anything.
Looking between the gaps of her silky hair, I could vaguely see a pair of white, cute ears.
Those ears were sizzling red, and I sensed a girlish presence.
“Well, this is a decent place.”
“Sorry, I have difficulty going up alone.”
“It’s nothing. Don’t mind.”
An orange engulfed the sunset.
After we were done shopping, for some reason, Chiaki insisted on treating me, so we arrived at a café, had an hour of tea. We shared our secrets, but I was guessing she wanted an additional failsafe? While I had such a thought, Chiaki suddenly said, ‘I want to go elsewhere’, so I did what she said, pushed her wheelchair for a few dozen minutes, and we arrived at a sloped hill where the sea could be seen.
“Let’s take a rest.”
Chiaki said, and relaxed under the wide sky. I too imitated her, and stared at the scenery far away.
The fire-scorched clouds were flickering with orange light, and the ripples on the endless sea appeared to be burning. I guess it was because I was tall that the sky seemed so close, and there was an unprecedented calmness I felt. I looked down, and the houses beneath had their lights lit, like the blocks I played with when I was younger.
“Erm, it does feel, well, don’t you find yourself small when you look away like this?”
I felt so unbearable, so lonely. It felt as strange as something that was scattered, unable to be replaced.
That’s the feeling anyone would have at this place. To Chiaki, this was a special place. What was she planning at when she brought me here?
“This is payback. This place has the memories Hayato and I have.”
It seemed Chiaki saw through my doubts as she softly noted. Ah, I see. So she was still jealous of that before. That’s why she insisted on bringing me here.
The laughable differences between a boy and a girl’s thoughts caused me to smile. The light from the fire-scorched clouds caused my face to heat up slightly.
While I was immersed in such sadness, Chiaki suddenly said with a clear voice.
“I was born with paralysis.”
This unexpected term hit me.
After a few seconds, I recovered. That was the reason why Chiaki was on the wheelchair.
“There’s a problem with my brain. Before I reached maturity, my legs could not move.”
I had a rough feeling about it, that Chiaki’s legs were not because of some injury that could be healed over time, like a leg fracture or muscle tear.
“But even then, I never lamented my misfortune. I was envious of the people around me, and there were boys who teased me because of my legs. But I had a happy family, my family’s rich, and I had a nice group of friends. I didn’t have a lot of things to really be frustrated by. What happened was—”
Chiaki’s voice sounded gloomy, and that difference triggered a deep resonance.
“When I was in second grade, I had a flu. I originally assumed that I would recover with such some rest, but the illness never got better. You should know what happened after that. Such an illness will lower a person’s immunity system, and thus, I couldn’t go school at all, and I couldn’t go play. I had to be hospitalized.”
“After that, the illness worsened. As I was young, I did not recover, back then, I ended up having all kinds of illnesses, let alone recover. I was bedridden, tormented by nausea and headaches. That was all I could only remember.”
The painful memories left Chiaki’s lips a little stiff, and she continued,
“At first, my friends would visit. However, they became few in number…it’s to be expected. Everyone has their own lives. However, when I was younger, I couldn’t accept it, and the negative emotions kept piling up. One day, I threw a tantrum at the one kid who came to visit me. That was the kid who came to visit me even after everyone else did not come by.”
Chiaki gave a self-reproaching smile, and continued,
“I really regretted it. After that, nobody visited me, and I spent every day in loneliness. But I was hoping that once I got discharged and returned to school, everything would be back to normal, that if I apologized, they’ll definitely forgive me…but reality’s not that easy. Even at school, there was no place for me in my old circle of friends. I wanted to apologize, but I couldn’t, because I got aloof, unable to be as honest as before.”
….I see. As expected, reality’s such a thing. Nobody’s at fault here.
However, one becomes unfortunate due to the sudden arrangement of fate. Chiaki just so happened to be caught up in one.
“Back then, I was suffering. I was the only one different from everyone; I had to take this slow wheelchair, like a criminal paraded on the streets. I was wondering why did I have such a life. My symptoms worsened. Whenever I was recovering from my headache, my vision faltered. Even now, there are times when I wake up giddy. Sometimes, I can’t move because my legs hurt. I often threw a tantrum, argued with my family. Back then, I was only in elementary school, and I could only cup my head and cry—but.”
Chiaki continued on, trying to blow aside the sad past,
“Someone kept supporting me.”
“Yep, the boy who used to tease me—Hayato.”
The name finally showed up. I sensed Chiaki’s voice softening.
“I really meant it when I said I hated him. Back when I was little, I really hated him. He’s a loudmouth, so energetic and jumpy. He’s skinny than me, but he’s great at running, sports, and always teased me. I was always wondering, why is my childhood friend such a person. I really, really hated him.”
Really hated him.
It seemed like a repulsive term, yet there was some soft feeling to it. Surely this was Chiaki’s—
“But I remembered that back when I was in third grade, I didn’t have enough attendance as I had to take leave often, and had to retake exams with Hayato, who often failed his exams. ‘Your legs aren’t healed?’, he asked me. Back in the day, he used to tease me, and yet he was showing concern. I answered ‘I’ll never be healed’, he apologized, ‘sorry’ and suddenly cried. I thought he forgot about it, and thought he already forgot about how he teased me. I intended not to forgive him for the rest of my life, but in the end, to him, well, I won’t be angry—”
Chiaki said with some regret, probably to hide her awkwardness.
That was it—yet, surely, this was the thing, combined with many other feelings, that linked these two together. What made this was definitely the necessary kindness from the two of them.
“After that, we always studied together. However, Hayato does have a bad memory. Why do you have to do such a thing, he always grumbled. One day, I told him, if he didn’t study well, he wouldn’t be able to become a doctor, that he won’t be able to save sickly people like me, and I said it like I’m a heroine of a tragedy. However, Hayato really believed it, ‘I’ll treat your legs, Chiaki’, he said. Years later, he became what they called the genius boy. Actually, if he really put his mind to it, he could do anything. I really was happy to have such a kid by my side—”
Oh my, you’re really an amazing guy, Hayato.
After we went to middle school, he stayed by my side. My personality never changed, so I never made friends. My family even told me off because of this. However, “I’ll always stay by your side. It’s fine not to make any friends. It’s a promise.” I wouldn’t feel sad even though I’m alone. But—this happiness only lasted till middle school.”
Chiaki stammered, and continued,
“When I graduated from middle school, my legs could move slightly. The doctors said there’s a chance. If I did some physiotherapy, my strength and bones might improve and recover. After that, I started to do my recuperation.”
Chiaki stared right at the sunset before her; however, her one showed a slight change.
“My family and Hayato helped me with my recovery, but it was really painful. Whenever I moved my legs, it would hurt. I moved a bit, and I would get giddy. Without anyone else supporting me, I would have given up. I was really happy to be able to hold hands with Hayato. It was with his support that I kept practicing…but.”
Chiaki hesitated for a little while, and finally decided to step into the memories of darkness.
“That day, I was practicing alone outside the house, and a group of passers-by. It’s rare to see someone do some physiotherapy alone, so every time, there would be people looking. It was a little different that day though. Those people mocked me, loud enough for the surrounding people to hear, and they were using me for their own amusement, like they’re watching a doe that was just born.”
Even without looking at the expression covered under the silky hair, I knew very well the humiliation that she suffered.
“I felt that I was being mocked. While I was really unable to take it anymore, ‘good work there, do your best!’, that was what Hayato told me. Back then, I was really happy. I’ll never forget those words.”
Chiaki lamented about the regrets she could never erase, and while facing her, I could not say anything.
“After that, I started to slack off. I was scared, but nobody was forgiving of me. My parents were harsh to me. I started to feel that I failed their love. But even after knowing this, I couldn’t be strong enough to stand up. Anyway, I’m tired, sick of it, and suffering within.”
—But, Chiaki stopped, and muttered his name.
“Only Hayato understood me. I didn’t say anything to him, but he said to me one day ‘I’m sick of it! Let’s play a game’. He suddenly acted weirdly, very unnaturally, and told me to give up on the physiotherapy.”
Naturally, the reason was obvious.
“He sensed that I was being driven to despair, and thus gave me a lifeline. ‘it’s fine for you not to be able to walk. I’ll push the wheelchair for you, so it’s fine’, so he kindly told me. However, my family felt that Hayato doted on me too much, and that’s why I ended up giving up on physiotherapy. We argued over this a lot of times, and none of us could come to an understanding, so I was gradually isolated by my family.”
A sad disagreement of ideas, I couldn’t help but sigh. Nobody’s wrong here. Everyone was thinking for Chiaki’s sake, and yet it ended up with differences.
“But with Hayato beside me, I didn’t feel that it was a pity. He would always stay by my side, so it was fine. I didn’t make any friends, like before, but with him around, I was still able to go to school as normal. However, Hayato—”
Till this point, Chiaki went quiet.
I knew the reason; the cruel future came upon them. Hayato…
“Akitsuki, hold this.”
Chiaki probably did not like this unpleasant atmosphere, or maybe she was concerned about me.
She took out the recorder and earphones, wanting to divert the topic.
“There was a TV drama I used to like. There’s a scene of a couple hearing music through a pair of earphones. I really like that scene.”
“Ah, a lovers’ bond.”
“I never had any interest in music, but I wanted to try it out. I really can’t enjoy music, but I bought a really expensive player.”
With a childish look, Chiaki reminiscence the past.
“But that guy’s really slow. When I said that I wanted to listen with him, guess what he did? He took out the earphones—and said ‘everyone will be able to hear the echoes if we do this’. That’s not what I was getting at. It might be a little exaggeration, but back then, I really felt like my dream was shattered. I couldn’t help but cry.”
Yep, I could imagine that scene.
Why is my partner unable to read the mood?
“But he’s a gentle one. ‘what’s wrong?’, he comforted me as he put on my earphone for me. His breathing was right by my side, and my heart jumped. Even though, those were still wonderful memories for me—”
The pretty eyes seemed to depict the memories as they slowly fell.
“The left phone’s for him.”
Seeing the sidelong face of a girl in love, my face could not help but sizzle.
I suddenly lifted my head, and looked at the darkening sunset.
What’s going on? Why do I feel so lonely?
I guess it’s because Hayato’s no longer around, that Chiaki and Hayato won’t be able to hold hands again.
Or maybe they weren’t the only ones who couldn’t hold hands again.
Hikari Yumesaki and I too—
I instinctively moved.
I instinctively removed Chiaki from the wheelchair and carried her like a princess. It’s too dangerous to sit on the wheelchair. You won’t be able to go forward, this allows you to see the beautiful scenery better; I gave such an excuse.
“…Mission three, clear.”
I said, trying to hide my embarrassment.
And then, I carried Chiaki up the slope. Her body’s way too light for me.
Chiaki didn’t say anything.
She probably hated it, or was angry. However, the truth was beyond my expectations. Not only that.
“You’re rather big.”
“That’s what people always tell me.”
“Hayato’s…skinny. In elementary school, he was skinnier than me.”
“…That was my encounter with him.”
I had a lot of pressing issues I wanted to ask Chiaki. Surely she had a lot to say too. However, more importantly, we wanted to look at the setting sun, to be surrounded by this crimson sky.
And so, we didn’t say anything.
Just staring at the extinguishing sunset before our eyes with sadness.
Two days later, the weather was fine, and like usual, I visited Chiaki’s house.
It was rare to see Chiaki come out, and welcoming me was the nanny. She led me directly to Chiaki’s room, and when I entered, I saw her sleeping on the wheelchair, and could not help but wonder, as it fine to leave her be? However, I could not make up my mind on whether to leave, or to stay, so I could only find a place to sit down, and heard her breathing in the quiet room. At the same time, my heart could not calm down, and I could only size up the room.
I guess it was out of barrier-free consideration that there were handrails and other disabled facilities installed all over the room. With the wheelchair however, I guessed these things were meaningless. Of course, this might be some of my useless thoughts. These facilities probably had some other purpose. Also, there’s a pair of crutches in the corner of the room, with signs of them being used. I guess it’s when she was moving from her wheelchair to some other place.
I saw the recorder left on the table, hesitated a bit, put on the right earphone, and opened the file 3. The message Hayato left for me was played.
“Hello! I heard from Chiaki that mission 3 is done. You’re rather capable. Chiaki looks rather happy herself. Now then, it’s time for mission 4…can you give me some time? I’ll tell you soon. Just to note, the difficulty you shoot up from now! So prepare yourself!”
“What are you trying to make us do here, you prince charming?”
I grimaced as I took off the earphone, and suddenly thought of the prank.
Again, I put on the earphone, and this time, I opened file 1. Sorry Chiakin, but blame yourself for sleeping so carelessly. You watched our exchange diary, so let’s make this even.
I tried to talk myself into this as I heard a cute voice from the earphone.
It was a soft, clear voice. I closed my eyes, imagining Chiaki’s expression as she recorded the message.
Surely, I believed, it was a blissful look.
“Hayato, good morning. How’s the body? Don’t force yourself. The medicine’s on the table.”
“Akitsuki came by today. Mission three is done. He’s tall and big, and easily carried me. He’s so massive, yet so gentle. A fine person.”
“Remember to keep this a secret from Akitsuki and Yumesaki. I heard from Akitsuki that he does like Yumesaki. Hm hm, I win this bet. Try asking Yumesaki how she views Akitsuki then. Let’s matchmake them like a TV drama. Not a bad idea, isn’t it.”
“Hayato, I’m really glad to be your childhood friend. This shall be the end. Good night. Do work hard today too. From Chiaki.”
However, the peaceful days did not last.
Two days later, Hayato suddenly stopped sending messages to Chiaki.