(It’s weird, definitely weird. What’s the matter with me?)
Due to the change in seasons, Koremitsu was wearing a half-sleeved shirt as his uniform instead. It became a duty for him to head to Yū’s house, and on a certain day after school…
He was standing in front of the food rack in a convenience store, muttering away.
From time to time, his heart would flutter, his head would heat up like a teapot, and he would stammer. Perhaps he caught some cold that came with the seasonal change?
The symptoms would become more pronounced whenever he was with Yū. Whenever Yū seemed to open her heart to Koremitsu and give a thin smile at him, these symptoms would worsen. Whenever he thought about Yū, the symptoms would occur, whenever it was at school or at home.
“—What is this?”
“This is ‘Kimchi with 3 times the spiciness’.”
Hikaru then pointed out,
“Are you going to buy 6 of those?”
Upon Hikaru’s mention, Koremitsu realized that the basket was filled with Kimchi bottles.
His face reddened, and he returned them to the rack.
“If you’re buying them for Yū, I’ll advise you not to buy such spicy ones. You can’t just consider your own preferences, Koremitsu; you need to think and choose what Yū wants.”
“I-I-I-I-I-I-I’m not buying the Kimchi for her. I’m buying them for myself.”
Koremitsu frantically explained,
“…What does Yū like?”
And then, he whispered with a frown on his face. Hikaru whistled,
“Damn you, what are you grinning for!? Speaking of which, aren’t you the one who asked me to take care of Yū?”
Koremitsu forgot that there were people as he lambasted Hikaru, and the shop attendant at the register was taken aback by him.
Upon seeing Koremitsu cringe his head guiltily, Hikaru told Koremitsu with a face that was about to burst into laughter,
“That’s right, thank you. Yū likes sweet and translucent food.”
After pondering for a little while, he bought some rock candy and went over to the apartment.
After he knocked on the door, the dreamy-eyed girl and the cat with blue eyes peered outside.
Koremitsu greeted her stiffly. “Meow~” Lapis purred, while Yū nodded at her with a gentle expression.
On the first time they met, she had a blue blanket draped over her tightly from head to toe, but recently, she merely had the blanket on her shoulders recently.
Normally, her attire under the blanket would be a sleeveless dress, her feet would be bare, without any socks on, and her neck and arms would appear from time to time. Whenever Koremitsu inadvertently notices her white slender calves and ankles, his heart would race without warning.
He handed over the convenience store back.
Yū received it, peered inside and immediately showed a beaming smile.
“Thank you…I really like it.”
Koremitsu did not expect that something like rock candy could cause her to have such a blissful expression; his heart raced, and his face got hotter.
Yū opened the packet and used her fingers to pick up a piece of translucent rock candy. She narrowed her eyes, her eyes ostensibly irritated by the light, and placed the rock candy into her mouth to nibble.
There was a cracking sound as she nibbled, and she gave a more blissful, satisfied smile.
Upon seeing this expression, Koremitsu’s heart nearly exploded from the fast beating of his heart.
The room was small, and the walls were thin, so they could hear the sounds of the neighbor, opening, closing the door, hard footsteps, and the growls of a woman from time to time.
“WHAT THE HECK! THOSE MEN ARE SO PETTY ONCE THERE’S AN ECONOMIC DOWNTURN! THERE’S NO WAY I CAN LIVE ON! EH, MY FUTURE’S BLEAK, FROSTY! EVERYONE OTHER THAN THE MEN WHO SUPPORTED ME CAN GO DIE!!”
Upon hearing the loud voice, Koremitsu shuddered.
However, Yū merely continued to space out even at this point.
“That is…the sound of waves crashing at the rocks.”
“The whales are sneezing.”
She would say such things with a blank expression.
He knew, after these days of being together, that though she was timid and introverted, she was serene, strong-willed, and could face the daily difficulties normally.
He felt that in this sense, Yū was very similar to Hikaru.
At this moment, Hikaru was still crouched on the floor on one knee, playing with Lapis.
It seemed Lapis could actually see Hikaru, and even reached its fore paws to touch him. After missing a few times, it looked up at him in surprise.
Lapis was originally a stray cat, and wandered here soon after Yū locked herself in the apartment. Its ears were not too sensitive, so it had a strange habit of staring at living people and objects; perhaps it was because of this characteristic that he could accurately detect what normal people could not sense.
Hikaru too stared at Lapis gently, and would sometimes use his fingers to prod at its forepaws, and also pretend to scratch its chin.
I really can’t get this guy. Why isn’t he willing to say what promise he made with Yū? The only thing he does here is to play with the cat. What exactly does he want me to do anyway?
Koremitsu glared at Hikaru, and upon noticing this, Yū asked worriedly,
“What, is it…?”
“Ah, it’s nothing. Well…how-how did you and Hikaru get to know each other?”
Koremitsu asked in a flustered manner. At that moment, Yū’s eyes brightened, and she whispred,
“…Hikaru…first appeared a week after Lapis appeared…”
It was the previous summer, on a drizzling night.
There was a boy dressed in Heian Academy uniform, holding an umbrella, standing in front of the apartment.
Upon seeing that effeminate pretty face appear under the road lights, she immediately recognized him as ‘Lord Hikaru’.
At that time, Hikaru was in his 3rd and final year of Middle School, and Yū was in her 1st year of High school, but there was nary a girl in the school who did not recognize the school prince ‘Lord Hikaru’.
(What…is he doing here?)
Hikaru was holding onto a light purple apartment, staring at the fence beside the apartment. This act triggered Yū’s curiosity.
Why is he standing there all this while? It’s so cold, so dark outside, and it’s raining. What exactly is he looking at?
His expression was so tender, filled with affection.
Yū stared at Hikaru from the gap in the curtain, and at this moment, he suddenly lifted his head.
Their eyes met, and her heart nearly stopped from petrification.
Her immediate thought was to hurriedly pull the curtains, but Hikaru smiled at her.
That smile was very friendly, tender, and seemingly melted into her heart.
After that, Hikaru placed his umbrella on the fence for some reason, and walked to the apartment in the rain.
Skeptical, Yū did not know what happened outside, but unexpectedly, a few seconds later…
*Knock Knock*…the sound of a door being knocked on rang in her ears.
Covered in a blanket, she timidly approached the door, placed her ear on the door, and heart a sweet voice speak to her,
“I’m sorry for disturbing you at such a late time, but do you mind letting me hide from the rain here? I lent my umbrella to the beautiful flowers drenched by the rain, and I don’t know what to do now.”
There was no sense of pretense in Hikaru’s tone, and the clear voice full of warmth attracted Yū. She opened her door, and found Hikaru soaked with transparent water dripping off him, his hair and shirt drenched, smiling radiantly at her.
“That was…our first meeting.”
Yū’s voice was soft and slow…she muttered.
“Hikaru said…he noticed the moonflowers growing at the feet of the wall…those flowers are fragile yet brave…as pretty as a fleeting dream…so he was stunned…”
—You see the white flowers blooming at the feet of the wall? The shuddering gentle flowers are drenched by the rain.
Koremitsu recalled Hikaru’s tone and expression as the latter stared at the foot of the wall in front of the apartment.
He said those flowers were tender and pretty.
Just like Yū.
—They bloom in the evening, and radiate silently under the moonlight in the night. When the morning dawn breaks in, they will start to wilt.
At this point, Hikaru was giving a reminiscing expression as he patted at Lapis’ head, similar to the moment when he stared at the foot of the wall.
His fingers could no longer touch Lapis, but whenever his white hand moved elegantly, Lapis’ whiskers would shudder slightly.
Yū did not realize her dead lover was in this room, but she still stared over at where Hikaru was with that dreamy expression of hers.
That must have been Hikaru’s usual spot.
Her loving yet lonely expression was heartbreaking to anyone who saw it—
Hikaru too would show a tender look to Yū from time to time.
As he saw them look at each other like this, Koremitsu started to feel uneasy, and had a sudden notion that he was getting in their way.
However, Hikaru would not say what sort of promise he made with Yū, and would not speak to Yū. He only cared about playing with Lapis, ostensibly not concerned about that promise…
“So, Yū …you became lovers with Hikaru like this?”
Koremitsu’s tone was glum and aloof, to a point where he was taken aback by it.
His stomach started to ache from cramps. Do I not want Yū to go out with Hikaru? Or am I unwilling to stand the fact that Hikaru’s only concerned about playing with the cat and leaving his girlfriend with another man?
Damn it, why am I so angry?
Yū realized that Koremitsu was giving a gloomy expression; thus, she remained silent and stared at him worriedly. As Koremitsu tried his best to give a calm expression, she moved her mouth impatiently, and spoke with a teeny-weeny voice,
“You seem…to be mistaken…Hikaru and I…were not lovers…”
“What do you mean?”
Startled, Koremitsu leaned his body forward.
“Didn’t Hikaru often look for you? The woman next door even commented vexingly that he returned back home in the mornings before—”
Upon see Yū’s face turn read, Koremitsu’s face became hot.
“My-my bad. I’m being too nosey here.”
Yū shook her head as her eyes looked downstairs, and her face reddened. She clasped her hands, hesitated for a moment, and whispered,
“Hikaru and I…really did not have that kind of relationship…I know…Hikaru had relationships with many girls…one time…I even asked him, why…wouldn’t he do anything to me…I felt it was weird…”
Yū’s neck reddened as well.
She grabbed at a corner of the blue blanket tightly, cringed her neck, and stuttered,
“And so, upon hearing that, Hikaru…smiled gently at me, and said that I…didn’t fall in love with him…”
Koremitsu’s face was still burning, and he kept listening to Yū with bated breath.
Hikaru however nonchalantly lowered his stare as he scratched Lapis by the neck.
Lapis purred quietly.
Yū looked up at Koremitsu with an uneasy expression.
“He said…by looking at the eyes, he knew whether the other party is in love…those in love, their eyes will show a desire to have the other party to themselves. Once he sees that expression, he will fall in love with that person, unable to break away, and at that moment, he wants to practically offer his entire being…”
Yū’s voice got softer, weaker, and once she finished, she lowered her head and remained silent.
She did not seem to be worrying that Koremitsu would not believe her words, but was reminiscing over Hikaru with a faltering heart.
Koremitsu too found it difficult to recover mentally. There was an inexplicable loneliness creeping out from his chest.
Perhaps it was because Yū really looked really depressed.
Also, Yū did not describe Hikaru’s usual radiant side, but also his lonely side.
She lowered her head, and muttered,
“Hikaru said that…there is only one exception…that though they were deeply in love with each other, they could not embrace each other…he looked really anguished when he said this…”
Hikaru ostensibly did not hear Yū’s words as he scratched at Lapis’ chin serenely, with the profound expression.
Lapis too stared coldly at Hikaru with its blue-purple eyes.
Yū continued to keep her head lowered as she remained silent.
At this point, Koremitsu did not know how to react.
Oi, Hikaru, stop pretending to be dead and say something. The atmosphere’s awkward because of you here! Now’s not the time to play with the cat!
Koremitsu glared at Hikaru, chiding him while his veins were popping.
However, Hikaru continued to play dead.
No, in fact, Hikaru was dead, a ghost in fact. Even if he spoke up, Yū would not be able to hear anything.
“I want to embrace Hikaru to remove his loneliness in his stead…”
Yū spoke with a soft voice that could melt away in the air.
“But he said…that it’s not love.”
There was an unsteady vibe to her tone.
If even Hikaru, who was well-versed in love experiences, said so, Yū’s feelings for Hikaru should probably not be love.
While there was a sweet and fuzzy feeling seeping into his heart, there was a feeling, akin to anxiousness, spreading gradually in him.
Yū wholeheartedly wanted to help Hikaru, to a point where she wanted to accept all his pain.
If he had asked for it, she might have accepted his request fully. She was so gentle and yet so hollow within.
Hikaru’s fiancée, Aoi, was a pure girl, a pure white flower who ostensibly was not once stained.
Yū was like a white flower too, but was a flower that could be dyed by other colors without warning. It seemed that if anyone were to touch her, they would damage her and soil her petals.
It was probably because of this reason that Hikaru never viewed her as a girlfriend, for he wanted her to maintain her purity.
Could there be any other reasons?—Koremitsu glared over at Hikaru’s effeminate face that was still looking aside.
“Have you fallen in love before?”
Yū suddenly asked, startling Koremitsu.
She lifted her head, and stared at Koremitsu with a transparent expression.
Koremitsu took a deep breath, and answered,
His palms were full of sweat.
(How is love different from other feelings? How do I differentiate between them?)
Koremitsu too did not understand what was the feeling fluctuating at the bottom of his heart.
Yū’s eyes showed an understanding expression akin to sorrow.
Koremitsu felt his heart being ruffled as he watched this, and she muttered with a lonely tone that nobody could ever forget,
“Then, we’re the same after all.”
♢ ♢ ♢
“Love…what is it?”
On the way back,
There was a rain before, so the blinking stars littered upon the ink-colored night screen were brighter than usual.
With his back hunched, Koremitsu murmured as he walked on with his head lowered. Hikaru, who was following beside at the same speed, answered with a gentle voice,
“It is a yearning for a certain person. This yearning is so powerful that it can change a person’s mental state, and…it’s fleeting.”
Koremitsu’s heart started to ache again once he recalled Yū’s hollow expression.
Hikaru continued on with a mature expression,
“Yes…even if we know that there will be a moment when our feelings will fade away, we still feel blissful when talking about love…no matter how painful that love is.”
There was the one person Hikaru could not embrace.
(Is he referring to Aoi?)
That girl represented Hikaru’s hope.
He once said that in a self-depreciating tone, that he did not dare to pursue her carelessly as he was fearful of being hated by Aoi.
But Koremitsu could not ask.
Unlike Yū, he could see and hear Hikaru; the latter was always with him.
We are friends—Hikaru once said this.
Even so, Hikaru would occasionally show an expression of deep thought, the expression of a grown-up that ostensibly would not allow Koremitsu to ask, that caused the latter not to ask out of fear.
At such moments, Koremitsu could not tell what he was thinking, what he was looking at. Though their ages were similar, they seemed so distant, and he did not know what to do.
(If I fall in love…will I understand what Hikaru’s thinking…?)
If that is the case, will I see what Hikaru is seeing?
Upon recalling Yū’s face, Koremitsu’s heart was anguished in pain, ostensibly pinched upon.
♢ ♢ ♢
On the next day, after school.
Koremitsu was in the stationary shop, staring at the glass puzzles. The glittering blue transparent puzzle was assembled together, forming a mysterious underwater scenery.
He stared at the completed picture printed on the box.
“Ahh, Yū will probably like this.”
Koremitsu suddenly heard a voice.
Startled, he looked away with a blushing face. Koremitsu frowned with his eyes raised, but did not say a word; at this moment, Hikaru smiled at him, saying,
“So you have grasped what Yū likes.”
Koremitsu put the puzzle back, turned and walked away.
“Eh? You’re not buying it?”
Upon hearing that,
“I’m just looking around.”
But he turned to another direction, picked up a puzzle, and walked to the counter.
Hikaru was amused by his awkward attitude, and laughed secretly.
Upon seeing the puzzle pulled out from the blue wrapping, Yū’s eyes immediately sparkled.
She stared at the blue puzzle in the box, and said delightedly,
She cautiously placed a piece of puzzle on her palm, marvelled at how it sparkled when reflecting the lights, ostensibly lost herself as she looked on, and smiled.
These actions and attitude caused Koremitsu’s heart to race.
It seemed she just had a shower, and her hair was still drenched. Her white skin gave the vague scent of soap, causing Koremitsu to gasp for breath, his head overheated.
(Why is it that my heart just flusters for no reason recently? I hate girls that much…I’m only taking care of her on Hikaru’s request…)
The Mid-Terms were about to begin the next day.
He should be prompting Yū to remember what ‘the important promise’ between Hikaru and her was about, solve it as quickly as possible, and end this relationship.
But unknowingly, his objective had changed to wanting to meet Yū.
He was excessively frustrated with himself.
(What in the world am I doing here!?)
Yū scattered the puzzle pieces on the floor.
She knelt down, bent her waist forward, and started playing with the puzzle pieces. The blanket unravelled, and her sleeveless dress revealed the white flesh on her neck to the collar. The fragrance of shampoo and soap whiffed into Koremitsu’s nose.
Yū lifted her head.
“Hurry up and dry your hair first!”
He inadvertently spoke with a gruff tone; his cheeks were stiff, his eyebrows were raised, and his expression was probably as savage as a wild dog.
Upon noticing how terrified Yū looked, he realized that he should not have done that.
(What idiotic things am I doing here!?)
“I-I-I-I-I’m not angry here! I’m not scolding you, just that I find your hair to be so long. If you don’t dry it quickly, you may get a cold…”
Koremitsu frantically tried to explain, his head seething.
“…Sorry, I don’t have a hairdryer…I can only let it dry…”
Yū said tentatively, her shoulders cringed as she looked dejected.
“Actually, I don’t use the hairdryer often either! I just leave it as it is after washing it! I’m really not angry at all! I may not look happy, and my expression looks savage but this is all hereditary—I’m always like this, okay! So I don’t know how to smile, and I rarely laugh. Hiakru said that he wanted to introduce a girl who likes to laugh, but I think she’ll be scared away immediately after seeing me…it’s meaningless to say this…this isn’t what I want to say…”
Koremitsu tried his best to explain, but the more he did, the more dejected her got.
If I can smile gently just like Hikaru now, I can calm Yū like this instead of spending so much time explaining to her.
Why can’t my face act as how I want it?
Why can’t I laugh whenever I want to?
I guess this cringing face looks like as twisted as a crying face now, right?
This will only terrify Yū more!
At this moment, Yū said silently,
“I don’t…hate your appearance…”
Yū’s eyes looked up at him, her eyes filled with uneasiness. However, it seemed she was not terrified of him, but wanted to encourage him.
Koremitsu was unable to move, his eyes fixed upon Yū. She soft with a gentle drizzling-like voice,
“…You are, a gentle…person…and you are very affectionate…with me.”
His chest shook silently.
Some heat returned back to his icy cold fingertips too.
“One of these days, you will be able to laugh.”
She said in a prayerful manner.
“I too…find it harrowing to leave my house…”
Sadness rose from beneath her transparent eyes. She lowered her head, remained silent for a while, and turned towards where the electric fan and golf bags were in a pleading manner.
There were shells and majolica were towers of prayer and graves of fishes over there, and Yū said they were meant to protect the underwater world.
Koremitsu suddenly recalled about Yū’s parents divorcing while she remained holed up in her room, and his heart winced at this.
Yū too harboured a deep wound.
“But when I talk here with Lapis and Hikaru…I just feel so relaxed…so…you definitely can laugh by staying here…”
Yū’s words dripped onto Koremitsu’s heart, just like how the drizzle rained silently, seeping into the dirt.
Yū used her index and middle fingers to pick up a piece of rock candy from the glass container, and brought it to Koremitsu’s mouth.
His face blushed awkwardly, and he felt he was a wild dog being fed as he stiffly opened his mouth. The translucent sweet crystal touched his lips and tongue.
Once it entered his mouth, he immediately tasted an intense sweetness within.
Koremitsu, who preferred spicy food, felt his tongue go numb.
Yū too took another piece and placed it in her mouth. She played with it using her tongue for a little while, her mouth letting out a little cracking sound, and she then showed a blissful smile.
“As long as anyone stays here…they can feel…happiness.”
The rock candy remained in Koremitsu’s mouth, as he could not swallow nor spit it out.
It truly was sweet enough to be aptly described as happiness.
But this was too sweet to him.
His chest throbbed, his pulse raced; he did not understand himself, and felt so tentative and helpless—
Yū cringed her body, closed her eyes, stuck her ear to the floor, and was ostensibly listening to the sound of waves that did not exist.
“Pain…sadness…there are things happening in the world far away…in this world, it doesn’t even matter if I don’t use an umbrella…”
There was still more than half the rock candy inside his mouth.
Yū did not murmur anything, and did not move.
It seemed she had fallen into a deep slumber.
Koremitsu called her, but there was no response from her.
He bent his back over to approach her face; he scented upon the whiff of shampoo, and could hear a weak snore.
He frowned as he tightened his mouth, got up and looked at the ceiling.
He then let out a deep humming from his tightly sealed lips.
He widened his eyes, gritted his teeth, and stared upwards while ostensibly giving a vengeful glare to a sworn enemy.
A gentle voice responded,
“What is it? I thought you had forgotten about my existence here. It seemed you could not see me at all.”
Hikaru stared at Koremitsu with a bemused expression, descended onto the floor, sat on his knees, and let his delicate fingertips tap Lapis on the head.
Lapis cringed in shock, and stared over at Hikaru with a brooding expression.
“You’re the one who’s pretending not to see. Why’re you sticking to the ceiling, sleeping away like you’re dead or something?”
Koremitsu said with his cheeks puffed, and Hikaru showed that mature smile Koremitsu was very repulsed by.
“I am watching, both you and Yū. You two are important people I’m watching over now.”
(Are you serious?)
Koremitsu’s lips curled harder.
“It looks like you’re really bothered, hero.”
“Isn’t that your fault or something!?”
“Yū’s sleeping because she can already relax with you around. When she’s with me, she often falls asleep when talking. This shows that she really trusts you, so no matter what happens, don’t get all horny here.”
“NO WAY! DON’T PUT ME ON THE SAME LEVEL AS YOU, YOU PERVERT!”
Actually, he was not simply feeling concupiscent; he was feeling mushy all over, and his body was beating wildly all over.
The hand and delicate white feet revealed from beneath the blanket caused his head to be on the verge of boiling.
And at the same time—
There was also another feeling, another doubt, rising from within his chest.
The sweetness that still lingered on his tongue continued to ask at this point.
“Hey…will I really be happy staying here?”
The moment he said this, the protruding feeling at the bottom of his heat strengthened.
“Can I really laugh…if I continue to stay here?”
Yū, who murmured with such a fleeting smile,
—You will feel happiness…
“Is this kind of lifestyle Yū’s living really happiness? What exactly is happiness?”
Is living this kind of life, locked alone in the house, meeting only with a select few, really happiness?
Lapis’ eyes were staring at Koremitsu.
Its eyes seemed to give the impression that there was a globe rotating in that small space within its eyes.
Hikaru suddenly showed an aloof expression akin to Lapis’,
“I’m just a ghost. I can’t answer this question.”
Koremitsu asked back in surprise,
Hikaru stared at Koremitsu silently with a wise expression,
His tone too became aloof,
“This ‘happiness’ is something only the living have the privilege to think of after all.”
“Wait…why are you acting like a bystander now? You’re the one who brought me here!!”
He was bewildered upon hearing this, and inadvertently hollered,
“And why wouldn’t you say what promise you made with Yū no matter what? What are your plans for her!?”
He could not understand why Hikaru’s tone became so aloof.
Hikaru’s white handsome lost all expression, seemingly gazing upon the happenings of a distant world. He murmured,
“This won’t do, Koremitsu…I can’t tell you the answer.”
Upon hearing this, Koremitsu felt his head seething with anger, and in his furor, he roared,
“What kind of joke is this! You bastard!”
The neighbour started to knock on the wall, not once but a few consecutive times.
The wall rumbled, and Yū opened her eyes slightly,
“…The waves are…really big today…is the whale flapping its tail hard…”
She said in a stupor.
Then, she found Koremitsu frozen there with a stern look, and asked worriedly,
“…What’s, the matter?”
Hikaru turned away from Koremitsu and continued to pat at Lapis’ head.
Unable to vent his frustrations anywhere, he suddenly called out in exasperation.
“…Yū, let’s go to school.”
Yū lowered her eyelids.
Koremitsu knelt down in front of Yū, his body leaning forward.
“It’s not normal to keep locking yourself in the room every day, and it’s not good for your health either. The line between reality and delusions will also become vague. Better get out and walk before your legs start growing fins!”
He really did not know if he should have said those words.
But upon seeing Hikaru being so aloof, he was so vexed within, and he inadvertently said out these impulsive words.
“If anyone bullies you, I’ll beat him up good. If you go to school, we can meet anytime! We may be in different classes, but I can accompany you during lunch break if you’re lonely…we can have lunch together…”
What in the world am I saying?
Koremitsu felt his throat parch up, and his face was scorching.
Yū’s face however paled, and with a teeny-weeny voice,
Koremitsu was perplexed.
Yū pulled her blanket tightly with trembling hands, and slowly backed away.
“Don’t. Why, must you say…such things? I don’t want to go to school.”
Normally, she was able to talk calmly in front of Koremitsu, but at this point, she was terrified, to a point where her entire body was repulsed by the notion.
“Y-you can’t possibly hide inside the house for the rest of your life, right? And you need to think of how to earn money to pay your rent and living expenses. What’ll happen if your dad doesn’t provide money for you?”
Yū’s shoulders shouldered. Like a chided child, she winced, and said with a sobbing voice,
“I-I’ll hang on even if I’m hungry.”
“The gas and electricity might not be the only thing cut off next time. They may cut off the water.”
“I’ll hang on.”
“I’ll hang on. That’s better than going to school. If I go to school, everyone will give me icy stares, and even say some bad things around me. I’ll be alone in school…”
She exerted more strength as she tugged at the blanket, cringed back, and draped herself under the blanket in the corner. Koremitsu felt his heart gorged apart, his head boiling over as he started to lose confidence.
(Did I say anything wrong here?)
He could not tell.
Hikaru continued to pat at Lapis’ head, his eyelids lowered, his effeminate pretty fingers gliding gently—and showed no reaction to Koremitsu’s words and Yū’s timidity.
Koremitsu was further incensed the more he saw this. I’m different from HIkaru, I’m really someone who cares for Yū here! He thought.
He could not stop once his temper flared up!
“I said it before! If anyone bullies you, I’ll beat him up good! I’m the same as you too! Everyone in school’s always giving me suspecting looks, spreading all sorts of baseless rumors everyone, saying I’m a delinquent, some murder suspect, and I can’t even get a friend as a result! Even so, I still go to school every day, and I will finish my homework obediently!”
The more serious he spoke, the more Yū’s heart seemed distant from him.
She did not want to look at his face any further.
A weak voice came from underneath the blue blanket.
“Because…you’re, very strong…I definitely can’t do that…if we go to school together, I’ll die. Since I’ll die either way, I rather starve to death here.”
“DON’T SPOUT NONSENSE HERE!”
At his wits end, Koremitsu furiously leaned forward, but his arm accidentally hooked upon the golf bag.
An unsteady feeling came about, and the bag immediately tumbled over. The electric fan and stove too flipped, while the shells and marbles fell all over the floor.
Yū revealed her face from underneath the carpet, and looked on blankly. She dragged the blanket as she ran towards the fallen golf bag and electric fan.
“Ah, m-my bad…”
Hikaru remained still.
That splendid side profile remained as still as a marble sculpture.
Yū’s petite face was filled with fear as she whispered.
She knelt down, her hands trembling as she picked up the scattered shells,
“Go back, go back! Never come back!”
She continued, and sprawled on the floor, her face sticking onto it. It was obvious she was crying from her shuddering shoulders and choking voice.
Then, she spoke to the startled Koremitsu with a hurt voice,
“…You are different from Hikaru after all.”
(Damn it, I already knew it!)
The sky was dark as he headed down the path leading home, and Koremitsu gritted his teeth, clenched his fists, and roared out deep within his heart.
(Hikaru and I are already different; I’m not as adept as him at handling girls. Hikaru wouldn’t do anything, so I thought I should do something for her…)
He did not expect her to be this unwilling to go to school.
“HIKARU! STOP PLAYING DEAD AND SAY SOMETHING! DON’T JUST BRUSH ME OFF WITH THAT ‘I CAN’T TELL YOU THE ANSWER’ LINE ALREADY! ISN’T YŪ YOUR WOMAN TOO!?”
He hollered out, his chest burning and his throat parched.
Hikaru continued to stare at Koremitsu while standing upright in the blue darkness.
The hair and skin that lacked pigments was ostensibly fading into the darkness, giving off an aloof and illusionary feeling. The hue in his eyes was lighter than before, and while it made him look exceptionally pretty, it also made him look more disjointed from the world, and it was hard to determine his feelings.
Koremitsu stared at him with a raging and pleading expression, and Hikaru finally showed a slightly more anguished expression.
“In the past, someone important…once chided me…why I made such a decision. At that time, I felt that my decision might not be the correct one…”
Koremitsu did not understand what Hikaru was saying.
All he felt was that there was a door sliding shut silently in front of him.
Right behind this transparent door was a pretty boy with white skin—the boy he viewed as a friend.
“And because of this…you want to ask me to make a decision!?”
Hikaru did not answer.
He closed his pale lips tightly, narrowed his eyes, and smiled in a lonely fashion.
(Why are you smiling at such a moment! You’re going to leave Yū alone like this? Yū’s still chasing after your illusion in the room, even now! She’s needs you, not me!)
Koremitsu glared over at Hikaru, his irises ostensibly about to pop out, and then shouted with a contorted expression.
“FINE! I WON’T RELY ON YOU!!”