I do remember very well the name of that bespectacled girl who always worked hard.
As the class representative, you really did your best without any grudges. You were always panicking, but that is definitely a show of the utmost effort.
When things are not going your way, you would lower your shoulders dejectedly and shed tears. After that however, you would approach the other party gingerly, yet head on.
I do feel that you were really cute being like that.
I am hailed as a harem prince, and you would lower your head whenever you saw me, running away from me. I never had a chance to talk to you.
We were linked by the same thoughts.
During the days when I was called the useless person by the girls in the class, the white flower pixie supporting me was an instant ‘grace’-like existence.
There was a faint fragrance when you passed by.
I never did see you, but my body and soul silently remembered that scent.
There was once when I made a request to you ‘can you be my girlfriend’.
And you answered me ‘yes’.
Back then, I never saw the shape of the white flower that gave off such a refreshing scent…
It really is great that I can fulfill the promise I made with you, though I have no idea when it was.
Surely, this will be my final culture festival on this world.
It really is great to have you spending this special culture festival with me, and I truly feel this way.
You showed the prettiest smile possible when I placed the ring of Cosmos flowers on you.
Were you also not moved by that smile?
There is nothing to be ashamed of. This is a natural result after being dosed by pretty flowers.
Did you also not think how fortunate you are to have such a cute, adorable girl as your first female partner in this culture festival?
Surely Miss Shikibu, Miss Aoi and Asa will not be rest assured.
And surely, it will become a topic starting tomorrow.
That you, the delinquent king, was sharing takoyaki, cotton candy with such a cute girl at the culture festival, fishing for water balloons.
Why is it that your face suddenly became so red?
You’re the only one I can see, and your voice is the only thing I can hear! actually, I did hear such cool lines from you, you know?
And then, what did you think?
Ahh, there is no need to cup your head and squat down.
Surely you will be hailed the flirting delinquent king starting tomorrow, you know? And that will be a bad thing for Miss Hanasato too?
Though I may conclude this, I can be certain that Miss Hanasato would not have such thoughts.
At first, she was bashful when you two were walking together, but starting midway through, did she not smile so cheerfully?
Surely, the ‘thanks’ Miss Hanasato said is from the bottom of her heart.
Have you also noticed too, Koremitsu?
Unlike before, amidst the expressions and voices in the rumors when talking about you, there was some goodwill laced in them.
It was when you stopped the girls from quarreling, chased down the boys from another school flirting with the waitress in the festival house, and when you desperately went about carrying the crying little girl on your shoulders, looking for her mother.
You have a terrifying face, but there are people who do think that perhaps you are a serious person.
That includes your classmates too
While everyone was ready to give up after the background sets were soaked in water, saying that they could not make it in time, you shouted at them, telling them that they should only say that when they really cannot make it.
You really are an amazing person, a really trustworthy person, viewed by all with respect.
And thus, there was a different scene from before; when you asked for someone to take over the reception, did Mr. Yoshida and Mr. Onodera not help to take over?
Surely, little by little, everyone is beginning to like you.
And you are able to enjoy a happy school life with everyone.
That personally was what I wished to do, and what I could not accomplish, you did.
This truly is something worth celebrating.
You will not be alone once I depart from this world.
And you will surely be able to make friends.
So, even if I am no longer around, you will be fine. Until that time comes, I will be able to leave the Earth in relief, and begin my own journey.
Surely with a smile—
♢ ♢ ♢
Once the closing ceremony ended, the students returned to their classrooms, and after a brief meeting, class was dismissed.
“Er-erm, Mr. Akagi.”
The duo who took Michiru’s place as receptionist spoke to Koremitsu, their shoulders tense.
“Ah, Yoshida and Onodera, right? Thanks for that.”
Koremitsu briefly recalled their names, and said so in an awkward manner. The duo too looked jumpy as their eyes swam about, elbowing each other.
(What? Do they have something they want to request from me? Well, I did say that I’ll pay them back.)
While scowling as he pondered, Yoshida spoke up,
“E-everyone in class decided that after this, we’re going to a karaoke box to celebrate the success of the culture festival today. So, you too, Mr. Akagi…”
Yoshida trailed off, and Onodera continued,
“W-w-we’ll like to invite you as well.”
Yoshida too muttered.
Koremitsu was shocked, and for a short while, was left speechless.
“Now then.” Hikaru himself seemed to be egging Koremitsu on from the side as he beamed.
“It’s…fine for me to go too?”
This was the first time someone actually tried to invite him out to a success party.
Till this point, the class had yet to include him in the class contacts list.
Did I mishear that? After he asked this blankly, the duo answered in unison,
“Y-you’re our committee member in the culture festival, Mr. Akagi.”
“Yeah. You were the one who encouraged us and prepared everything for the class exhibit, and that’s why we could succeed.”
“You’re not coming after all, Mr. Akagi!?”
The other classmates in the classroom were also anticipating Koremitsu’s reply as they stared at him.
“Yes, Mr. Akagi will definitely participate, right Hono?”
The one asking this so cheerfully was Michiru.
Honoka’s shoulder jerked in shock, and then,
“…Well, Akagi’s very free anyway, so he’ll go.”
She continued to fiddle with her cellphone while looking away from Koremitsu, looking nonchalant.
(This is bad…I feel like crying.)
Koremitsu felt something hot rising up within his throat, and covered his face with his right hand, his lips quivering, and he widened his eyes, apparently shocked by his classmates.
It was incorrigible of him, but his throat kept shivering.
—You will be able to enjoy your school life with everyone.
Hikaru’s words became reality.
“Koremitsu, if you do not hurry.”
Hikaru, by the side, gently spoke.
Koremitsu opened his mouth, and put his hands down stiffly, his face sizzling as he answered everyone with a trembling voice.
“Oh…yeah. I-I’ll come along too…I guess.”
Yoshida and Onodera beamed, seemingly relieved.
After seeing their expressions, Koremitsu’s heart became warm as a result.
“So then, this is the map of the shop.”
He received a message from Yoshida.
“See you later then, Mr. Akagi.”
He was no longer able to say anything else. Surely he did not think that he did not like the culture festival or something.
Michiru went by Yoshida and Onodera as she approached Koremitsu, smiling as she whispered,
“I’ll be going there first, Mr. Akagi… do be there.”
She gave him a meaningless stare.
But after hearing that, Koremitsu recalled that he had something he had to do.
He turned to Honoka, and the latter pouted her lips, staring at her cellphone screen.
The actions Michiru did to Koremitsu a while back did seem very intimate. Honoka looked absolutely terrifying as she practically decided not to face him.
With a finger on her lips, Michiru slipped out from the classroom.
And the other classmates began to move.
With a rigid voice, Koremitsu hissed.
Hikaru floated in the air as he watched over them, silently supporting them as he practically cheered them on.
Honoka’s fingers, which were fiddling with the message, stopped, but she did not reply Koremitsu as her lips curled increasingly, and she then continued to type her message.
“I got something to say. Mind hearing me out a little?”
She did respond to Koremitsu’s words, but perhaps she could not speak up as she had already ignored him once. The perplexed stare was swimming about, her face increasingly tense.
Sweat was trickling down Koremitsu’s forehead and armpit.
And finally, cold words came from Honoka’s mouth,
“…It’s not good to keep Michiru waiting.”
Honoka was practically saying that she would be joining Michiru and the rest at the shop, and also hinting that Michiru was waiting for Koremitsu.
“Hanasato already went off to the shop.”
Honoka lifted her face, and looked around the classroom.
There was basically nobody else in the classroom except for Koremitsu, Honoka and a few girls. The girls chatted as they left the classroom, and it got quiet.
After that, only Koremitsu and Honoka were left behind.
Honoka muttered, and raised her eyebrows,
“I’m going too.”
She slipped her phone into her pocket, carried her bag, and stood up.
“Wait. Listen to me, just for a moment.”
Honoka was too stubborn, and Koremitsu got anxious as he grabbed Honoka by the wrist to make her stop. The former then looked away from him.
“What? Are you going to announce that you’re dating Michiru?”
Honoka retorted bluntly. Her eyes became feeble, and she quipped gloomily,
“…I heard that you and Michiru were feeding cotton candy to each other…and that you walked about with your hands held together, Akagi, and all sorts of things…”
“The one liking Hanasato was Hikaru. I just took his place and accompanied her until the culture festival ended. We aren’t really dating!”
“Huh!? You’re still saying the nonsense about Michiru seeing you and Lord Hikaru’s faces together?’
Honoka gave Koremitsu a chiding stare, but she froze there after seeing him give a serious look.
She looked ready to break down in tears, perhaps because she was unable to evade his eyes.
“B-but…Michiru’s feelings for you…”
“Hanasato’s the one who told me to have a proper talk with you, Shikibu.”
Honoka’s eyes looked extremely mystified
—Hono has been evading you because of me, Mr Akagi.”
At the backyard basked with hope, after Koremitsu slipped the flower ring on Michiru’s hand, the latter looked elated as she whispered,
—I said to Hono that if she just viewed you as a classmate, she shouldn’t be getting in our way. I didn’t want Hono and you to be just on friendly terms, Mr Akagi.
—So Hono’s been concerned about me, and unwilling to talk to you.
And then, with a smile on her face, she lifted her head.
—It’s definitely a lie if that Hono view you as a mere classmate, Mr Akagi. That’s obvious from her attitude.
—Please patch things up with her.
“Hanasato said that you were the one who asked the classmates scared of me to help out after school.”
Honoka again gasped.
“In exchange, you had to participate in the friendly matches, take part in the volleyball exhibition game, and the Shogi reception or whatsoever.”
Koremitsu’s face was filled with bashfulness and confusion as she stared back at him.
—Hono has been worried about you all this time, Mr Akagi. She’s been thinking only about you.
Upon recalling Michiru’s words, Koremitsu’s face grew increasingly hot.
Michiru was the one who had been giving suggestions to Koremitsu, supporting him as they prepared for the culture festival.
But Honoka had been acting aloof, secretly helping Koremitsu.
It was not a complete mistake to think that the sender of the cuckoo envelopes was Honoka.
Honoka opened her mouth, dumbfounded.
And Koremitsu let go of Honoka’s hand, lowering his head towards her,
One had to wonder how many times had he thanked Honoka.
It was always when he realized Honoka had been helping him out, that he felt some hint from Honoka’s words, gained some courage from her, was moved in some way; that was the feeling filling his heart.
Again, Koremitsu nudged his body and stared at Honoka. Hikaru vanished from his sights before he knew it, surely watching over him.
“I-I didn’t exactly….speak up to everyone else in the class for your sake…”
Honoka eked those words out,
“And then, I took part in the friendly matches, not because of you…”
After several seconds of silence, a fleeting expression appeared.
“This isn’t it.”
She spoke with a hoarse voice.
That calm face and voice was completely different from her usual feisty self. Koremitsu’s heart jolted, his breathing paused.
“I did it…because of you.”
With damp eyes, she lifted her head tentatively.
It was dark outside the window, and one could practically hear the pounding of the heart inside the window.
“I actually wanted to tell you the truth, Akagi. No matter who you went out with, if it’s based on your real intentions, I’ll give up. Michiru was angry at me, and said that if I just thought of you as a classmate, I shouldn’t be talking to you. That’s because I lied. I will never do this again; I won’t try to bluff, nor will I be lost.”
She stared at Koremitsu as the latter watched with bated breath, and with much thought in her eyes and words, she confessed,
“I like you, Akagi. Not in the usual like, and not as a classmate. I like you, Akagi.”
Koremitsu’s head immediately sizzled.
But at that moment, there was an extremely anxious voice.
“I too…like Mr. Akagi!”
Both Koremitsu and Honoka were practically repelled as they turned to the voice in unison.
Standing at the entrance of the classroom was Aoi.
Koremitsu could hear a little murmur from Hikaru behind his head.
(What did Aoi just say!?)
Honoka stared at Aoi with a petrified look, and watched the latter shout with all her might, summoning all her courage as she slowly approached.
Aoi stood in front of them, and spoke with a near-teary look.
Was she saying sorry to Honoka, Koremitsu, or to the both of them?
With a pained, suffocated voice, she said,
“But I too like Mr. Akagi. I do not wish to lose to you, Miss Shikibu. I wish to like Mr. Akagi as a male.”
The posh Aoi actually had such an agitated side to her.
Actually, Aoi was a girl who had that side to her. There was the time when she yelled at Hikaru’s corpse ‘you liar’—
That agitation and devotedness was being conveyed to Koremitsu.
With a stifled voice, Honoka said,
“I-I too won’t lose to anyone in my feelings for Akagi, whether it’s you or anyone else, Your Highness Aoi…! I won’t back down!”
And while both girls unleashed all their emotions, Koremitsu was left as confused as a raft stranded in a thunderstorm.
Hikaru too hid himself, not voicing anything.
Koremitsu could not be bothered with what emotions Hikaru had with regards to Aoi’s confession. All he cared about was that he was in no man’s land between the two girls pursuing him.
He did not know how to deal with the issue at hand.
And beyond that, he could not express his feelings for both Aoi and Honoka.
Did he have to answer immediately? Did he have to answer at this place?
Koremitsu, basked under the harsh stares, was at his wits end as he stood in front of the blackboard, unable to solve a tough maths question he had yet to fully comprehend. His heart nearly ceased, the sweat pouring like a waterfall.
Suddenly, the cellphone in his pants pocket vibrated.
He was unable to give an answer, but he managed to escape from their sights, and after a little sigh, he checked the sender.
At that moment, he felt a numbing shock racing through his mind.
While Koremitsu widened his eyes and jerked his shoulders, Honoka and Aoi watched on with bated breath.
The message was sent from Yū Kanai in Australia,
Koremitsu did not dare to blink even once as he stared at the message left on the cellphone screen,
“In a few days, I will be visiting Japan.
I hope to meet you again.”
♢ ♢ ♢
(Did my message reach Mr. Akagi…?)
In the yard lit by the outdoor lights and the moonlight Yū’s delicate finger pressed the send button, and stared at the cellphone screen for a long time even after the words vanished from it.
“Did you sent a message to your boyfriend that you are heading back?”
She turned to the rich sweet voice.
There was a bespectacled youth with feeble, slanted shoulders and a tender face standing in front of the Poplar trees growing in the vast garden of the luxurious nursing care facility; he gave a serene smile as he remained basked under the moonlight.
“E-erm, that is…”
Yū’s face was completely flushed, not knowing how to respond. Upon seeing her fidget, he narrowed his eyes, beaming as he said with a lukewarm voice,
“Good to see that you are going to be reunited with your beloved boyfriend.”
He, Hikaru’s half-brother, looked to be as gentle a person as he appeared, and had the same tranquil voice. Perhaps it was for this reason that Yū, ever so weary, was able to calm down.
“I came to call you in as the after-meal tea is prepared. Come, do come inside and hear me out.”
He never did ask who Yū sent the message to, and prompted the girl in. The latter placed the shut cellphone at her chest, saying with a voice that was ever so chirpy.
“Yes, Mr. Kazuaki.”
♢ ♢ ♢
The culture festival was over, and the bustling atmosphere in the school campus cooled. Surrounded by silence in the student council office was Asai, who was giving a conflicted look as she sat on the chair,
“There is another 2 months until labor, is it?”
The stoic voice appeared to be restrained in emotion as she inquired the secret contact.
“Do you think that the child inside her is Hikaru’s?”
The girl had straight, neat, short hair resting on her shoulders, and a refreshing, intellectual expression; with a voice of clarity, she answered,
“I do not know.”
Even at this point, Asai had been observing Hikaru’s heart up close, closer than anyone else, and was conceited at this fact. This girl standing in front of her was the one who was closest to Hikaru’s most beloved, Fujino Mikado, and she knew of Fujino’s actions, and her heart.
That girl cautiously continued.
Asai’s face paled as she listened with terror,
“On that snowy night in March when Mr. Hikaru returned to Shinshu, the one Mr. Hikaru bonded with at the Church was not the Japanese Cypress, but the Wisteria.”
♢ ♢ ♢
I never did forgive you.
I will never forgive you for only looking at others when you should have been looking at me, and being blissful.
I will never forgive you for escaping alone from the world that was just the two of us.
I will never forgive you for loving me, swearing an oath of love with me, hurting me, and deserting me.
I will never forgive you, for letting out of the clasped fingers as you showed that beautiful, cruel smile.
Thus, I had no choice but to kill you.