“So—everyone slacked off.”
It was the following day, after school.
They were in the classroom, the tables and chairs moved to the side to form space for work, and Koremitsu’s fists and shoulders were trembling with rage.
“M-M-M-Mr. Akagi! D-do-do-don’t be angry at them…c-calm down!”
Michiru was shivering as she pacified Koremitsu by the side.
Koremitsu did notify the entire class during the homeroom meeting that they were to build the parts for the haunted house, and requested those that could stay behind to do so. The classmates however slipped out of the classroom one by one, and both Koremitsu and Michiru were the only ones left in the classroom.
“What in the world are they doing!? Don’t they have any enthusiasm!?”
As for Honoka, she went out of the classroom first while on the phone, saying, “Ah, homeroom’s over now! Yes, I’ll be there. Yeah yeah, I’m fine. Completely okay.”
There was an instance when Honoka passed by Koremitsu and met him in the eyes. She however gave him a fierce glance and left, while Koremitsu folded his arms, remaining silent.
(But there’s this bird envelop here. I don’t understand at all! Is she a tsundere!?)
He recalled the envelope he found after PE class for some reason, and there were words beside the bird drawing. Koremitsu’s facial muscles became extremely stiff as a result.
The moment he saw those words, he felt his heart tighten.
Hikaru did say that there was a soul in those words, so one would have to wonder what the intention of the sender was when sending this short line…
(What’s Shikibu thinking…and how does she view me?)
He felt his heart wince in agony, and inadvertently gritted his teeth as he pieced together the words and Honoka.
(But right now, Shikibu isn’t the one I should be thinking about. I have to think about how Hanasato and I have been the only ones working since yesterday. Hikaru’s around, but he can’t even pick up a stapler. He’s completely useless.)
Hikaru himself was floating leisurely in the air, looking around the empty classroom, and said, “It really is terrible. You were too serious when you made the announcement during homeroom meeting; you should not have scowled with your eyes so red. Everyone else was scared of you.”
(!! I was born with this face!!)
“Let us do our best, Mr. Akagi! If it’s the two of us, a haunted house maze can be done in jiffy!”
“Like hell it’s possible!!”
He instinctively exploded, and then reflected on his actions.
(Throwing a tantrum at Hanasato isn’t going to solve the problem.)
Koremitsu squatted down with his shoulders and head drooped, sinking into a short moment of self-loathing.
Michiru frantically added, stating some very naive words,
“I-it’s fine! I’ve always been doing tasks for others, and I did a lot of chores during Middle School, so I really am good at woodcutting or sewing. When the uncle of the school faculty injured his waist, I helped him change the light bulb! If you’re tired, I can do it all myself…’’
Koremitsu looked up, and found her sniffling like a little puppy.
—I’m used to doing things alone…
It seemed she said something similar the prior day, that everyone was so busy they could not help out, and as the class rep, she was already used to doing things like this.
“That’s not it. This is a class exhibit. Including me, everyone should be involved.”
Koremitsu lifted his head as he said this seriously, and Michiru was shocked.
“You too. If you hate being a jobber for others, just say it out.”
And with a forlorn face, Michiru looked down at Koremitsu.
“Well…I do find your efforts amazing for being willing to do what others don’t want to do because you’re a class rep.”
And Koremitsu”s words caused Michiru’s face to be dyed a little pink.
He got up, and stretched his back.
“Okay, we can’t just keep slacking around like this. Let’s just get to work together today. Let’s see. We’ll just stick some PVC glue on some cardboard boxes—”
“You really are kind, Mr. Akagi…”
Michiru beamed. Koremitsu was taken aback upon being told this, and his face sizzled.
“Ugh, don’t say that.”
“Yes, you are very gentle. You surely would give up your seat if there was an old man on the train. You would have scared anyone if you tried talking to him like a normal person, so you deliberately chose to get up and head to another carriage.”
And even Hikaru chimed in. Surely that would have embarrassed him further, no?
“Mr. Akagi, I brought some honey jam waffles together. Let’s do our best and eat them later.”
A shiver trickled through Koremitsu’s entire body,
(We’re going to eat those super sweet snacks!?)
In that case, if they were to continue working together, he would have to eat those sweets that would melt his teeth?
“Tch, I’ll tie those slackers up and drag them here tomorrow.”
♢ ♢ ♢
The next day, Koremitsu glared at each and every one of his classmates like one ready for a showdown, and declared,
“Hey! We’re going to do the sets after class!”
“You dare slack, and I’ll unleash some vengeful spirits on you guys!”
“Enough yapping. Stay back after school!”
And whenever break time came, there would be shrieks coming from all over the classroom, as fear struck all the classmates.
“Will this not cause a reverse effect, Koremitsu? Be kinder when you ask them.”
Hikaru chimed in with skepticism.
“Damn it. I’ll try that smiling attack.”
Yes. Koremitsu did show his smile towards the mother he had a feud with. Surely it would be a piece of cake showing it to his classmates.
Koremitsu raised his lips, smiling with much goodwill as he said,
“Make sure you come even if you die.”
“Huh, this guy just passed out…hey, pull yourself together!”
“Ah! Koremitsu! That was more of a ‘weapon’ than a smile! And something akin to a ‘final weapon’ to boot.”
Hikaru had his hand on his forehead.
“The delinquent’s scary!!!”
“Is that the legendary smile of death that’s ‘scarier than a vengeful spirit’!?”
“I heard that those who saw his smile will have their souls sucked out!”
“I-I’ll go to the toilet!”
And the classmates scurried out of the classroom one after another.
During noon break, the only ones left in the classroom were Koremitsu, Michiru and Honoka, the latter merely staring at the cellphone screen.
The envelop with the bird drawing was yet to be delivered to Koremitsu’s table on this day.
(I’ll try asking Shikibu for help…try talking to her.)
Perhaps the reason why she stayed in the classroom was that she was hoping for Koremitsu to grovel and say ‘please’.”
But just when he was about to call out with skepticism.
Honoka quickly got to her feet and walked out of the classroom.
“Miss Shikibu…too walked away.”
Koremitsu clenched his fists on the table, gritting his teeth hard.
(I never thought of relying on Shikibu. I never thought of including her.)
And while Koremitsu forced himself, Michiru watched him worriedly, her eyebrows lowered.
Is it going to be honey hell today again? Koremitsu had already given up. As expected, he and Michiru were the only ones left in the classroom after school.
(Why aren’t things going well at all. I did my best asking them for help…is it really because I really look like a delinquent?)
Just when Koremitsu was feeling dejected, he too sensed some gloom from Michiru’s face, and pretended to be nonchalant, saying,
“I’ll try asking those guys in class tomorrow.”
“It’ll…be the same tomorrow.”
Michiru lowered her stare, whispering,
“Even though you did so, you’ll only feel dejected, Mr. Akagi…no matter how much you ask for help, you’ll just be ignored, rejected…it’s too pitiful, so sad…because I know all that.”
Her eyebrows continued to fall, and she looked ready to break into tears. Called the class rep since Middle School, surely Michiru would have many more experiences of the helplessness Koremitsu felt.
Back then, Koremitsu felt that Michiru was amazing for declaring that she wanted to be the number 1 class representative in Japan.
But even after changing the mental perspective, the painful events would never vanish completely.
“Th-that’s why…I never intended to ask others from the beginning…and I thought it’s better for me to work alone.”
“Then didn’t you ask me for help and made me be some culture festival committee member or something?”
Back then, Michiru really was desperate when she lowered her head and pleaded him for help.
She lifted her head, showing a smile, and that forlorn smile caused Koremitsu’s heart to jump.
“Because I know you will not refuse me, Mr. Akagi.”
The classroom seemed to become more tranquil than before. He could not see Hikaru, just standing face to face with Michiru. His heart was so cold, anguished, perturbed,
“E-erm…I think we’re going to work on the parts for the culture festival, right?”
A timid looking boy appeared from the back door, one Koremitsu had some recognition of. Was that not the boy seated in the middle of the third row? The boy behind him too looked familiar, and though Koremitsu did not know the name, surely that was his classmate.
Behind them were a group of boys and girls, huddled up as they entered the classroom. One of them boys was shivering, supported by another two people. That was the one classmate who was given the ‘Come even if you die’ knockout from Koremitsu.
“Y-yeah. We’re starting with the work now…sorta.”
They looked like young boys and girls ready to be offered as human sacrifices, remaining tense and still.
“Surely it is because of your request that everyone is gathered together, Koremitsu. Thank goodness. Let us share the workload then.”
Hikaru drifted towards Koremitsu, earnestly happy for the latter.
Michiru herself stood blankly, and Koremitsu remained skeptical.
(Did everyone actually believe my words that any slackers will be haunted by a vengeful spirit?)
And all of them looked extremely terrible.
“Now then, let’s start packing the tables and chairs.”
After saying that, everyone looked relieved, probably understanding what they had to do, and they entered the classroom to move the tables and chairs.
Michiru herself continued to stare at this scene with a blank face.
Ever since that day, there were no less than 10 people staying back after class to work, and the parts forming the haunted house were slowly forming shape.
All of them tried to avoid making eye contact with Koremitsu or say anything when working. Surely, the sight of that was akin to the laborers forced to work in the ‘Cannery Boat’.
Though everyone did stay back, and Koremitsu was pleased that there was progress in the work, but…
(I guess…it’s different from the ‘Culture Festival’ I imagined it to be…it’s so dead, rather than gloomy…)
He felt conflicted within.
(Everyone’s here because they’re scared of me…though it’s better than them not being here.)
And Honoka herself never participated in the work after school.
He could occasionally hear from the girls that Honoka was joining the volleyball and handball team as a part-timer for friendly matches. She was not only going to be a sales girl for the Japanese Dance club, but also a model for the photography club and help the shogi club pull in customers, so she was really busy. Perhaps she had no time to take part in the boring class exhibits.
(Stop thinking about Shikibu already.)
Koremitsu tried convincing himself, but the profile seated beside him, staring at the cellphone screen seriously, would always enter his sights. The messages from the bird continued to come, and his erratic thoughts continued to linger on.
The last time he actually had a proper conversation with Honoka was a few days before the culture festival, in the Japanese Dance Clubroom.
Once he was notified by Tsuyako to try some clothing, Koremitsu skipped the class work with Michiru, muttering ‘why me too’, and arrived at the Japanese Dance club.
Aoi and Honoka were blushing as they turned towards Koremitsu.
Aoi was dressed in a long, fluffy, one-piece dress with a white frilly apron over it. The long, black hair was tied up, and she had a nurse cap on her head, white tights and sandals on her legs. She really was cute.
Honoka herself was wearing a nurse cap, and she was dressed in a fitting miniskirt nurse uniform. That emphasized on her thin, long legs, very lewd.
Both of them cringed bashfully, and Koremitsu’s face and ears were sizzling, ostensibly having witnessed something he should not have.
Both Honoka and Aoi were the ones he really wanted to avoid at this moment.
Yet they suddenly appeared in front of him in nurse uniforms. Koremitsu did not know how to respond.
Ignoring Koremitsu’s feelings completely, Hikaru marvelled above Koremitsu’s head.
“Wow. Those really do suit Miss Aoi and Miss Shikibu! Miss Aoi is really cute, and Miss Shikibu really makes my heart flutter. Hey, Koremitsu, hurry and praise them.”
“P-praise them…!? That’s a tall order for me!!”
“!! Isn’t this a white coat?”
“Yes. A nurse’s lover is a doctor after all.”
And saying that, she slotted a stethoscope around Koremitsu’s neck.
“Hm, now you do look like an unlicensed, wild doctor with that on you. The wild aspect is amazing, but I suppose it is better to have you a little neater.”
“What’s with the wild doctor!? Does something like that even exist?”
Tsuyako began to apply some hair dressing on Koremitsu’s head, and combed his fringe forward with both hands. The side hair was combed back, and she then slipped a pair of fake glasses on his nose.
“Okay, it is done.”
“Woah, what happened to me?”
“You are really cool, Koremitsu!”
Hikaru’s eyes sparkled as he chimed in enthusiastically.
Aoi and Honoka watched with bated breath, and their faces paled.
Tsuyako again chortled.
“Pfft, now you’ve become a terrorist disguised as a doctor, like you will use a surgical knife as a weapon.”
And then, she was rolling on the floor, laughing.
Koremitsu stormed to the mirror in the room, and exclaimed,
“WHAT IS THIS!?”
His red hair was combed all the way back, and the sadistic eyes were framed with glasses, the stethoscope hanging on his neck, and the white coat draped on him. He was glaring back at himself, his back arched. Truly, as Tsuyako did mention, he looked like a terrorist sneaking into a hospital rather than a doctor.
“It really fits you, Mr. Akagi. This is really amazing. My tummy hurts.”
“That’s a lie! Stop laughing as you say that!”
“It really is. Is it not, Miss Shikibu, Miss Aoi?”
Honoka averted her eyes, and Aoi too fidgeted.
“…Isn’t this good?”
“I-I too think, it is amazing.”
Both of them said with their teeny-weeny voices.
An awkward atmosphere froze the place again.
At this moment, Michiru appeared, dressed in the same clothing as Aoi, and upon seeing Koremitsu, she widened her eyes.
“Well, that is cute. I guess an antique style does fit you after all, Miss Hanasato.”
Tsuyako cheerfully stated, and Aoi too added on with a tense voice, “Yes, it does suit you.”
“You’re cute there, Michiru.”
Honoka said clumsily, and after panicking a little, Michiru too answered back clumsily,
“Th-thanks…you’re cool too, Honoka.”
However, both of them did not continue with this conversation as they averted their eyes.
Tsuyako squat on the tatami, stroking the hem of Michiru’s skirt as she said,
“I suppose it is better to roll the skirt up a little. Do you mind helping to make some changes, Miss Shikibu?”
“I-I can do it myself in that case!.”
Michiru said flusteredly.
“It is more convenient to make adjustments while wearing it. Miss Shikibu herself is good at sewing, and will finish it soon, no?”
Honoka gave a bitter look, but she knelt down in front of Michiru.
“Don’t move, Michiru.”
And then, she began to sew Michiru’s skirt.
Michiru lowered her stare, looking at Honoka with a frozen look. Honoka too looked extremely tense as she made one stitch after another.
(Shikibu and Hanasato haven’t patch things up?)
Koremitsu was curious as to what happened between them.
(…What’s Shikibu thinking?)
One had to wonder, what exactly was the reason why Honoka was so aloof to Michiru, and even to Koremitsu.
“Miss Shikibu really is well skilled in sewing. The salad she did for you was decent too, Koremitsu. Surely she will make a good bride.”
Hikaru said with tenderness.
Upon hearing Hikaru’s words, Koremitsu recalled the incident in the summer when he returned home, and found Honoka suddenly standing in the corridor, welcoming him back.
He recalled the day when she stared at him with a blushing face.
He recalled the moment when his hand touched her when they were about to scatter the 7 spice powder on the tempura.
Back then, Koremitsu knew that Honoka preferred spicy food, like him.
And then, there was the moment when she was in Koremitsu’s room, staring at him feebly.
—I-is it alright that…I find myself liking you?
Till this point, he had yet to convey his answer to Honoka.
He felt solace whenever he was with her, and joy whenever he conversed with her. He was elated that Honoka unexpectedly had similar tastes to him, and he would be dejected when Honoka ignored him. He felt terrible.
One had to wonder, what were those feelings?
She was the first one to interact with Koremitsu, so feared and shunned by others, but Koremitsu wondered how Honoka, who kept interacting with him thereafter, viewed him.
—“I haven’t forgotten, Shikibu. About you saying you like me.”
(I still haven’t forgot.)
However, he still could not give her an answer.
Suddenly, he sensed Aoi staring at him uneasily, while he himself was looking at Honoka, and he felt a jolt inside.
He was so overly concerned with Honoka, his feelings for Aoi were also shaken all this time.
(Now I don’t have a right to call Hikaru a playboy.)
While he was ostensibly wandering through a dim maze with no exit in sight, he could feel Michiru’s hand pinching his white coat.
“Mr. Akagi…it’s about time to head back to the classroom…we still have a lot more to do…”
Once he learned of this excuse to leave Honoka and Aoi, Koremitsu heaved a sigh of relief.
He nodded, feeling peeved at his own cowardice.
With a tragic look, Aoi watched Koremitsu and Michiru leave together. Honoka herself merely pouted her lips, scowling as she looked elsewhere.
♢ ♢ ♢
His heart still yet to be at east, Koremitsu returned home, and handed a culture festival entrance ticket to Shioriko.
“Wow, thank you big brother!”
Shioriko was squealing about.
“Lapis, look, it’s an entrance ticket! Amazing, isn’t it?”
Even Lapis was look.
The cat merely puffed away, an leisurely bent her body, beginning to comb her fur.
‘Thank goodness’ or ‘calm down already’ or ‘ah yes’, what the purr meant, nobody had an idea.
Masakaze’s shogi coach was going to participate in a tournament on the day of the culture festival, and Masakaze was going to give his support. Koharu was going to attend her friend’s wedding, so neither could accompany Shioriko to the culture festival.
Koharu insisted that Shioriko, as an elementary schoolgirl, could not attend a high school festival alone. Masakaze was overly worried that there would be strange men wooing her, voicing his disapproval.
“I’ll be fine going there alone.”
Shioriko insisted on going alone, but after realizing that Koharu and Masakaze would not budge, she proposed a compromise.
“In that case, I’ll ask my classmate Yū and her dad to come along. Yū said that she had some tickets from her cousin, so she’ll be going.”
“Okay, that’ll do.”
“Got to hand it to you.”
And so, Masakaze and Koharu agreed.
“Can the culture festival come sooner?”
While Shioriko beamed innocent, Koremitsu felt a lot more relieved, yet he remained so gloomy.
“Big brother Koremitsu? Did something happen in school? You don’t look very lively.”
Shioriko asked worriedly.
And he patted Shioriko’s tender black hair. The girl then puffed her cheeks, saying,
“Stop thinking of me as a kid! If there’s anything you’re sad about, you can tell Shiiko here! Shiiko will help eliminate big brother’s enemies from society.”
“…Stop with that already.”
And Koremitsu curled his lips into a frown.
(Now even Shiiko’s worried about me. I really got to buck up here. Got to do my best for the culture festival.)
“What’s your class going to do, big brother?”
“A haunted house.”
“You’re going to act as a ghoul?”
“Like I’m going to!”
While Shioriko clung onto Koremitsu cheerfully as they conversed without restraint, Hikaru watched over the blood siblings-like duo with his tender eyes.
♢ ♢ ♢
Two days before the culture festival began, the maze of cardboard and glue was basically done. What was left was to assemble the parts before the opening ceremony.
The work after school ended early, and once the classmates left, Koremitsu looked around at all the cardboard walls leaning by the walls to dry, feeling gratified.
“Now that we’re here…got to make it succeed.”
Koremitsu whispered to Michiru, who was looking at the same time from beside him.
“Really had you taking care of me all this while, Hanasato.”
And Michiru said so lifelessly,
“No…I didn’t do anything.”
“The one who helped you is the sender with the bird, I guess…”
He looked towards her, and found her lowering her head in a glum manner. He could not help but wonder what happened to her actually. With her head lowered, she continued to ask Koremitsu hesitantly,
“Mr. Akagi…do you have any plans for the culture festival?”
As for his plans, it would be the class exhibits, the Dance Club’s exhibit, and the special security branch Asai commissioned him with.
Michiru continued to clench her fists,
“I…don’t have any. When I was in middle school, Hono’s very busy because she’s very popular, so she can’t be with me, and I could only read in the library…but…I really want to be with someone I like, strolling in the stroll while holding hands, eating cotton candy, fishing water balloons, shooting toys at the gun shop, dancing a folk dance after the night festival…I really want those things lovers do…and thought that if I had a boyfriend, I’ll do that…”
For some reason, Michiru merely stood blankly, stating her desires for the culture festival. Beside Koremitsu however, Hikaru was giving a ‘this is bad’ look, so the former understood that he was not in a good situation.
He did feel so uneasy before. Back then, his gut was aching, and cold sweat was trickling.
It was soon after the second semester started, and he was called up to the roof to talk about something. The sky was dark that day, the sun could not be seen, and he could only feel some humid air. Back then, Michiru lowered her head, asking him with a teeny-weeny voice.
—Mr. Akagi, who do you like? Hono or me?
Back then, he really did not understand why Michiru was asking this question. He felt his back chill, and he suffocated as she continued to stare at him with those moist, helpless eyes.
Surely, he could not compare this, and could not answer. That was what he said back then.
Then, Michiru stared back with a stare filled with more intent, asking,
—“Then…do you like Hono?”
By the time he realized it, Koremitsu current atmosphere was as tense as it was back then, so still he he could hear the erratic breathing from each other.
And Michiru lifted her head, starting at Koremitsu with a thoughtful look.
Hikaru too stared at Koremitsu and Michiru with such tension.
“Mr. Akagi, I…”
A soft voice entered Koremitsu’s ears, numbing his mind. While he gasped for breath due to his anxiety, a nonchalant, uppity voice came from above.
“Mr. Koremitsu Akagi, please come to the student council office immediately.”
Asai’s voice echoed from the speakers, breaking the tense atmosphere.
“You know the consequences if you delay any further. Come now.”
That uppity voice certainly knew how to command others as it prompted Koremitsu again.
“Sorry, gotta go.”
Michiru’s eyes became despondent, and Koremitsu felt overwhelming guilt in his heart, but his feet were already headed for the door.
♢ ♢ ♢
“Do you know what day is it today? Mr. Akagi.”
Once he opened the door to the student council office, Asai was glaring at him furiously,
“It is 2 days before the culture festival.”
And again coldly stated without waiting for his reply.
“Why do you not show up when others call you. Do you realize that you belong to the special security team?”
Michiru’s teary eyes lingered in Koremitsu’s mind, and he became a little startled. Asai frowned, “This really is strange.” muttering,
“I suppose there is quite an anomaly for you to actually apologize to me directly.”
“That’s not it, alright? Even I’ll apologize to anyone if I offend that person. I’m already extremely busy with the stuff in my class, and I admit that I forgot all about the special security group.”
“…I see. Well, I will not be commending you for that.”
Asai coldly retorted,
“Well, it is a good thing to be able to reflect on yourself, if you do not repeat the same mistake over and over again.”
Saying that, Asai handed him a map of the school campus on the culture festival, a ‘special security’ armband, and the documents for the patrol time slots and locations he would be supervising.
“Memorize this map before the opening.”
“Hey, I got the Middle and Elementary School branches too? I can’t do that in 2 days.”
“You are mainly in charge of the high school faculty floor, but it is better to memorize everything just in case. Do it, perfectly.”
Asai’s direct words were like a chopper, not allowing any refusal.
Surely he would have to burn the midnight oil on this night. He however would feel peeved to have Asai deem him to be a useless fellow.
(I’ll do this, perfectly.)
And with a business-like tone, Asai briefed him everything about the work that day, and all he was to pay particular heed to.
Since she would not allow him any time to take notes, surely that meant he would have to memorize with his mind, and that meant Asai did not want such incompetence where he could not remember such things.
In fact, Asai was briefing him without looking at her notes.
That was why Koremitsu stared at Asai intently, pricking his ears, remembering every single word she said.
“Both Koremitsu and Asa really are not willing to lose.”
There was Hikaru’s sweet tone and chuckle from the side.
And after more than 30 minutes passed, Asai said unflinchingly,
“Have you noticed, Mr Akagi?”
“You and I are the only ones in this room.”
No, Hikaru’s around too. The moment Koremitsu wanted to answer this however, he realized Asai would have been furious if he said that.
“Is that so?”
And so, he muttered. Asai stared at Koremitsu with her long, sharp eyes.
“I have finally found a chance to talk with you for real.”
Koremitsu was stunned by those words.
For some reason, he had a bad feeling about it…
“About Hikaru’s ‘beloved’.”
(It’s about that after all.)
Koremitsu scowled, and Hikaru hid his smile.
(Saiga did mention about Hikaru’s stepmom.)
Fujino was pregnant.
And Hikaru did say the child in the belly was not his.
Hikaru had always loved Fujino since young. A few years back, Fujino did have that cardinal sin with Hikaru back then, but later on, she kept rejecting his advances. That thus could not have been Hikaru’s child.
(Saiga however thinks that it’s Hikaru’s child.)
The illegitimate child was growing day by day in the belly of Hikaru’s most beloved. If it was to be born one day, even the strong-willed Asai would not have been able to calm down.
“That’s not Hikaru’s child.”
Koremitsu said earnestly, not evading Asai’s stare.
“Hikaru himself said so, and I believe him.”
“Looking at the circumstances, I do not suppose Hikaru had the time to talk about this complicated event.”
“I can only try to make you believe me somewhat. Hikaru told me everything about him and his stepmom. Back in March, when his stepmom returned to her hometown, Hikaru could not hold back the pain in his heart, and went to the Mikados villa where his stepmom was to reunite with her. The stepmom told him that she didn’t love him, and chased him away, thinking he’s an eyesore. A dejected Hikaru went to the Church, got reunited with Sora, and so nothing happened between Hikaru and the stepmom. If back then, if Hikaru and the stepmom were really honest with each other, I suppose Hikaru wouldn’t have been so dejected. Anyway, that’s not Hikaru’s kid.”
Koremitsu used his own method to think and convey what Hikaru confessed to him.
Hikaru loved Fujino, but the latter rejected him.
That would be the entire truth.
But after that, Hikaru’s words and memories of the Golden Week in May was very ambiguous. Was the one who asked Hikaru out at night really Fujino?
Hikaru slipped and fell into the river Was the one who tried pulling Hikaru out from the river the same person; as for that, he did not know.
Also, relating to that, Koremitsu felt that there was something important Hikaru was still hiding.
And when he said this to Asai, Hikaru listened in dismay. The profile appearing in the eyes became gloomy, causing Hikaru to show a blank look.
With a heinous stare, Asai stared back at Koremitsu.
“It really does not fit with the current situation…but I shall believe what Hikaru confessed to you. This however does not determine who the father of the child is.”
Surely there was a strong hint of denial in Asai’s voice.
“Only the mother knows who the father of the child is. It is not strange for Hikaru not to know.”
“So that means nothing happened between Hikaru and the Stepmom—”
Asai cut off Koremitsu, saying,
“On that night, after refusing Hikaru and chasing him away, she left the villa, and did not stay there. The servants were silenced, but the locals did say that she left the villa. Perhaps she did go after Hikaru.”
Koremitsu inadvertently gasped.
Hikaru too widened his eyes, his body swaying. Perhaps he did not know either.
“And then, she and Hikaru—”
“Stop it, Asa!”
Hikaru exclaimed in hysteria.
“I spent the night with Sora that night. That person never loved me, and left me aside, never willing to betray my father. Please do not sully that person’s name and slander her.”
Hikaru’s lips were quivering, his eyes clearly flickering in anguish, and he looked ready to explode at any given moment as he kept begging. That yell was bellowing furiously at Kormeitsu’s chest, stabbing it.
“Stop it already, Saiga!”
And Koremitsu bellowed in turn, causing Asai to be stunned, unable to talk.
“Please…stop it already. Stop slandering Hikaru’s love. Hikaru…will be dejected.”
The painful undertone lingered in Koremitsu’s words, and the stare too was filled with anguish.
Asai herself looked motified as she stared at Koremitsu for a while, and then, she said with a stiff tone,
“Understood…I shall leave this topic aside until I obtain concrete information.”
Hikaru lowered his head, biting his lips. Surely he was still in agony.
Koremitsu too frowned hard, and lowered his head.
“…It really is strange hearing an apology from you.”
And he was responded with a conflicted voice.
“Speaking of which, it seems like Kazuaki knew that Aoi isn’t Hikaru’s favorite. I was worried if he would do anything to Sora, but Sora was fine. Maybe he’s planning to do something to the stepmom…”
While Koremitsu expressed his doubts, Hikaru too began to worry.
“Kazuaki probably will not be able to do for the time being.”
“Fight fire with fire. I did something.”
There was a blade-like glint in Asai’s thing eyes.
“I caused the people around Kazuaki’s mother to set things such that she will be against her own son. She herself would be troubled that her supposedly obedient son tried to escape from her control, so it was not too difficult to do this. Kazuaki is an important piece to her, so she will not try to hurt him. The fact remains that they are our enemies.”
(Asa really is a scary woman to be able to talk about this so calm.)
Cold sweat began to appear on Koremitsu’s face.
“Kazuaki is currently in England. On the surface, it may look like a short-term study trip; in fact, it is a convenient plan to avoid his mother’s attacks.”
Hikaru too felt relieved, “Thank goodness.” heaving a little sigh of relief as he muttered.
(Well, things are much better off with that perverted bastard of a crossdresser not in Japan at the moment.)
Feeling relieved, Koremitsu praised Asai,
“Ohh! You’re rather reliable, Asa.”
And Asai batted her eyelids, whispering as she looked aside.
At that moment, silence filled the time.
The pretty sidelong face was facing Koremitsu, and with a stoic tone, she said,
“I heard that Aoi…had been busy helping with the Japanese Dance Club.”
The ruptured relationship between Asai and Aoi during the summer vacation was not repaired, but there were signs of it.
Though Asai may act cold and aloof, she certainly was still worried about her close childhood friend Aoi.
Koremitsu never thought Asai would suddenly mention Aoi’s name, and faltered. Even he was shocked by this.
“I-I didn’t force her into helping out.”
His heart was pumping, his face sizzling.
(This is bad. My face seems red now.)
Whenever he heard Aoi’s name, he would show such a reaction, a heavy symptom itself. Asai frowned, and stared at Koremitsu intently.
“That’s, just something Aoi herself wanted…no, it’s just that, even though she’s not in the Japanese Dance Club.It’s the same intent working part-time back then…Aoi just wanted to change herself…so, Aoi’s…”
Koremitsu wanted to surmize matters, but his face kept sizzling, his words erratic. Hikaru, by the side, looked melancholic, and this caused Koremitsu much distress and confusion.
(Damn it, I’m reacting too much.)
Perhaps it was best for him not to ay anything. Koremitsu choe to keep quiet.
Asai purused to the matter, asking,
“Mr Akagi. Do you like Aoi?”
Blood rose into Koremitsu’s head, and his body was searing. A fanatic black emotion gushed out, and Koremitsu yelled out, unable to hold it in,
“Aoi’s the only one impossible for me!!”