Hellping

[Hikaru V9] Chapter 5

“Mr Akagi…”

It appeared Yū was about to head out. She was holding a little bag, standing at the door.

She had just turned around, and widened her eyes when she potted him. Surely his hair and clothes were all sweaty, his cheeks and fringe tense, his eyes bloodshot, his shoulders puffing, and he appeared to be a step away from death.

The emotional brake Koremitsu had completely broke by the time he arrived, and he grabbed Yū by her slender shoulders, pressing her onto the door.

“Didn’t I tell you not to go out! Why—-why don’t you just understand!?”

“Koremitsu, calm down!”

Hikaru treated to stop Koremitsu, but the latter’s penting emotions broke through his chest, ripped his throat apart, and went amok. Yū’s slender shoulders were practically about to be crushed.

“If you’re to go out alone—if-if-if something’s going to happen to you, what will I do? Do you understand your situation? Someone already sent me a text saying that you’ll be executed ‘by the gullotine’! I can’t protect you if you’restill so careless! I—I won’t have a purpose coming to where you are, right!?”

He just repeated his words over and over again, not allowing any time for others to talk, and he fully expressed his shattered feelings.

He was unable to protect either Yū or Honoka, and his chest was practically ripped apart as he ran towards her. Yet Yū wanted to head out as if nothing had happened—

“I gave up on Shikibu just to be with you, Yū!”

“Calm down! Koremitsu! Yū’s terrified by you!”

Hikaru raised his voice, and Koremitsu finally composed himself.

The little white face looked eerily pale, the fleeting eyes showing fear. The shoulders grabbed by his hands wre shivering.

(W-what did I just do…?)

“…!”

He relaxed his fingertips, suffocated by his pathetic self, slammed his head above Yū’s shoulder and onto the door, keeping it lowered.

“Mr…Akagi.”

Yū spoke tentatively.

“Let’s go inside and talk…I won’t be…going anywhere…”

Koremitsu was unable to lift his head, and Yū whispered, “I’m fine…I just got a little cut…on the fingertip…from a knife…” her right index finger was wrapped in a band-aid, “There was…a little blade between the door gap…it was dangerous…” she spoke as if nothing happened.

“Hey…I-I’m still fine. I’m here, right?”

“……”

“It’s just a little cut on the finger. Nothing happened, okay?”

“…”

The cold fingertips touched Koremitsu’s face. Yū got on her knees in front of Koremitsu as she looked up, looking very worried.

“But why are you crying, Mr Akagi…?”

“…”

Salty water trickled down the stiffened face; the icy bullets fell upon the clenched fists placed on the knees.

With her slender fingers, Yū again wiped Koremitsu’s tears away.

Right in front of the blurred vision was the fleeting, worried face looking up at him. Hikaru too watched Koremitsu with a tragic expression from there.

“Mr Akagi…what are you worried about right now? You seem…to have mentioned, about Miss Shikibu just now…”

 

—I gave up on Shikibu just to be with you, Yū!

 

Koremitsu whimpered as he recalled the crude, barbaric words he said to Yū.

I’m horrible. I was the one who decided to come to Yū and I’m the one throwing my tantrum…

“Tell me…Mr Akagi. What happened between you and Miss Shikibu…?”

He could not rein in the regret tore at his heart, and the oblivion struck at his head. It was really embarrassing for him.

“Mr Akagi.”

Yū held Koremitsu gently by the hand. The latter lowered his head saying,

“Shikibu…well, it appears that she got too involved in something bad. I understand that well, but I can’t do anything—”

“Mr Akagi’s Heliotrope…her legs are pretty…and she is a girl with pretty eyes…”

‘Mr Akagi’s Heliotrope”—why did Yū mention it at this moment?

Perhaps she was trying to mean ‘she is not one of Hikaru’s girls’, and Koremitsu was not in the mood to think further into it. He had difficulty breathing the moment her name was mentioned, and his heart was shattered.

“Shikibu’s really a good person. She helped me out a few times—really, she’s always with me whenever I was in a rut, encouraging me, giving me hints…if she’s in trouble in any way, I too want to help. She’s a girl too, so I have to protect her. But Shikibu said that she doesn’t want my help.”

 

—There’s no way you can protect two at once!

 

He already knew about that.

The word protect was filled with lies and fallacies.

 

—I’m strong enough that any half-hearted worry is troublesome to me!

 

Honoka’s eyes were tragic as she yelled.

 

—Stop caring about me!!

The sight of her storming off in a huff and quivering appeared in his mind, and his heart again felt ready to be ripped apart. If he was to givve chase after Honoka back then, he would have knelt down haplessly in front of her, worried about Yū.

“…Mr Akagi, you came to me, instead of Miss Shikibu…?”

Yū quietly murmured.

“So that’s whyyou’re in pain…”

Her voice was filled with agony.

“Miss Shikibu…must have been someone very important to you, Mr Akagi.”

“…yeah.”

Koremitsu answered hoarsely, and Yū remained silent. She again looked hurt, but sounded determined as she slowly spoke,

“I think…I can understand what Miss Shikibu is feeling…just like you, she’s the type who wants to protect others…she’s not the only one…Mr Akagi, you’re always protecting girls, but girls too do want to protect those they love…”

Yū’s words trickled silently into Koremitsu’s heart.

Do girls really want to protect those they love?

“They don’t want…those they love…to experience unpleasant memories…if those they love end up hurt because of the desire to ‘protect’…they’ll be sad…so…”

Hikaru watched Yū and listened to her words with a pained expression.

Koremitsu too felt a pricking pain in his heart, recalling what Aoi said.

The words, Whenever I felt troubled or worried, you would come to me and lead me by my hand; for that, I am happy.

And also, However, I cannot be letting you hold my hand forever, Mr Akagi.

 

—So—I am in trouble, but I wish to handle my own troubles. Once everything is over, I will confess to you again. At that time, please think of me.

 

Aoi, whom he assumed to be a weak, glided princesss, smiled with such an earnest face—

“Mr Akagi, you’re suffering…just to protect me. I…don’t like that at all. I too…have my own issues…that I want…to protect. I want to be with you, to help you…”

The pain Hikaru felt when he heard Aoi’s words, Koremitsu felt it too.

A scorching flame ached deep within his his heart.

He was riveted by Aoi’s attitude, trying to rein in the loneliness.Yū’s words again caused Koremitsu to fully accept it.

As Yū had said, while Koremitsu wanted to protect others, the ones being protected end up hating it. He did not know what to protect, or how to go about doing it.

(Yū’s… suffering because of my protection…was she always suffering this much…)

Back then, Yū remained shut in her apartment, unwilling to exit, and was so fragile that she was terrified of raindrops. She was a girl who could not live without the help of others. However,

 

—I won’t run away anymore.

 

Back then, Yū shivered as she explained to Koremitsu in the park that she was going to Australia.

What exactly were her feelings back then? She did not send a single message or a make a call to him, and remained in foreign land all the time. What exactly did she experience? Was Yū’s hard work all denied because of his selfish desire to protect her?

Koremitsu grabbed Yū’s arms as the latter wiped his tears off.

The tender arms cringed in surprise when met with Koremitsu’s coarse hands.

Koremitsu held onto those arms, and lowered his head, devoid of confidence, hissing,

“It’s a stubborn request for me—you’ll be frustrated and troubled, but, please, don’t go out today.”

He wanted to respect Yū’s feelings, to understand her feelings, but at this point, he was not in the mood to do so. He had yet to understand the enemy’s real identity while he continued to be toyed with. All he could do was to protect the one in front of him—

Yū again remained silent. She stared at Koremitsu intently while the latter lowered his head, saying,

“Okay, it’s a promise.”

The soft voice answered.

Koremitsu, overwhelmed by the anxiety, was engulfed in the tendernness of an older sister wanting to soothe him.

“Can I, come back again?”

He lifted his head wearily, and Yū showed a faint smile.

“Yes.”

Yū’s face felt very similar to the tragic smile Hikaru would show.

“Mr Akagi, I…wish to have a date with you next time. Can you go out with me next time?”

“Yeah…”

“I’m relieved. Now we have a promise too.”

Yū reached her pinky out.

Koremitsu too reached his finger at the white, slender finger.

Yū again showed that faint smile as she sent Koremitsu off, and whispered before she closed the door,

“You have to…properly convey your feelings to Miss Shikibu, Mr Akagi.”

The door closed silently.

With his anguished, arduous feelings, Koremitsu stood at the door, watching it.

“Let us go, Koremitsu.”

If Hikaru had not spoken up, perhaps Koremitsu would have stayed there the entire time.

♢ ♢ ♢

“Mr Akagi…I’m sorry.”

Yū stared at the closed door, whispering.

A long time passed after she watched Koremitsu leave, and she stood there, looking anguished.

He was forceful and earnest when he grabbed Yū’s hand and pulled her to the outside world. He kept coming after her, hurting himself, and kept weeping, unable to stand up at all.

When she decided to return to Japan, Yū felt so delighted, so blissful that she was able to meet Koremitsu again, her elation to a point where she could fly.

(I…caused Mr Akagi so much pain.)

Koremitsu was simply worried about Yū. The first lie, coupled with others, meant that there was an increasing number of things she could not say to Koremitsu.

If it’s Miss Shikibu, what will she do? Yū thought of the girl who was Koremitsu’s classmate.

Unlike Yū, she was a cheerful, feisty girl. Her clothing and hairstyle were pretty, and surely she had a lot of friends. If Koremitsu called her the Heliotrope, that probably meant that she was not lying to him.

Honoka boldly stated her own opinions to Koremitsu—that was probably the reason for the conflict.

With that, Honoka was able to speak to Koremitsu on equal standing. Yū was envious of her.

Koremitsu said that he chose Yū, but that was because Yū appeared to be more feeble than Honoka…Koremitsu would never leave such girls behind.

(When exactly…can I tell Mr Akagi…the truth…?)

Or was it that she could only continue to lie?

While her heart remained engulfed in anxiety, the cellphone placed on the table rang.

Other than Koremitsu, the only one who would give Yū a call was…

With a heavy heart, she received the call, and placed the phone at her ear.

“Yes, I know…I’m fine…I’m going out now.”

The utterly lifeless voice stopped, and she got ready to head out.

♢ ♢ ♢

Night quickly arrived, and Koremitsu walked down the narrow path leading to his house under the lonely sky.

With the frigid winds blowing, the slouched Koremitsu slowly dragged his feet dejectedly, and Hikaru quietly talked about flowers.

“The Patrinia did appear in the Man’yōshū.It is one of the 7 herbs of Autumn…’From Summer to Autumn, there are yellow flowers blooming at the tip of the fine green branches…the name Patrinia refers to ‘overwhelming’, where even beauties cannot beat it. Some say that the little yellow flowers were similar to the millet rice the women of that time ate—in other words, the ‘beauty rice’. The same too goes for the bride too; back then, they use the terms noble daughters or madame.”

Koremitsu listened without a comment rather than remain by the side and remain silent with a gloomy look. Hikaru too just wanted to continue rattling.

“There was also themed around ‘Patrinia’. A wife had mistaken assumed that her husband had abandoned her, and jumped off the cliff. There was a spot of Patrinias growing by the tombstone, but whenever the husband approached the the flowers, they would wobble…when the husband left, it would grow back to its original position…it would fade backwards again when he approached…the husband felt rejected like his deceased wife…and in his despair, he too jumped off the cliff where his wife died from.”

In any case, they should have talked it out more, right?

(There wasn’t any outcome?)

This isn’t the time for such words now, right? Koremitsu’s body got increasingly heavier.

Hikaru again stared at the feet with a melancholic face, saying,

“…The wife never had trusted love, and the husband never had trusting love. Which exactly is in the wrong?”

The anguished voice caused Koremitsu’s heart to tense.

The woman never felt trusted love, and the man never trusted in love.

Surely the woman was timid, and the man lacked communication skills.

“I always thought that the husband was in the wrong.”

Hikaru spoke in the past tense.

“The man had to let the pretty flower bloom, to grant them the water, nutrients, and sun. If he truly loved that flower, he would have to do his best to convey his own love. Without that, the flower would wilt. But…”

The clear moonlight shone upon the side of Hikaru’s fleeting face, and the long eyes were lowered, showing a loneliness from the endless void within.

“No matter how one tried to convey his love…there are those that he would be unable to get through to. That was what I thought—even if I had to face it with my unkempt self—all I saw was the one showing me the anguished face…”

(Are you talking about your stepmother?)

That was what Koremitsu had assumed, but he never said it.

After hearing Hikaru’s words, Koremitsu too thought about Yū and Honoka.

Yū, whom Koremitsu wanted to protect, ended up dejected and unable to smile. Honoka wailed and yelled, saying that she did not need his help.

Hikaru got increasingly pained.

“It does feel like the Patrinia that sways away to escape whenever you want to touch…you were rejected so many times, and in your despair, you jumped off the cliff.”

Koremitsu felt a chill as Hikaru showed a faint smile, saying these words.

 

—I suppose Hikaru killed himself.

 

Whether Tsuyako’s words were doubts of truth, one did not know.

Hikaru said that he fell from the riverbank, saying that it was an accident. It was still unknown however whether that was the truth.

Also, there were the injuries on the wrist. Hikaru never explained them to Koremitsu.

As a ghost, Hikaru did not have those injuries on him.

Tsuyako said that she saw them before.

Did Hikaru feel despair over the love that could never be fulfilled, and sought death thereafter?

 

—and in his despair, he too jumped off the cliff.

 

The words he just heard continued to echo in his ears, and he felt a chill.

“…Was that your personal experience?”

He cautiously asked, hushing his voice.

Hikaru maintained his smile,

“It is just a drama theme.”

And curtly replied,

“You have to be careful not to allow that to happen. It is too late for me, but your is just beginning.”

“I won’t be jumping off a cliff or anything.”

Koremitsu curled his lips as he replied.

“Is that so?”

Hikaru continued with a tender expression,

“But when you were rejected by Miss Shikibu and Yū, all I could see was you blaming and hurting yourself.”

“Ugh.”

Koremitsu recalled how uncouth he looked when he ran all the way to Yū’s room, and went speechless, his face gradually sizzling.

“You too will becoming self-loathing, just as I was when I was rejected by that person.”

“Do-don’t put me on the same level as you! I-I’m not going to be a crybaby like you…wait.”

“Have you forgotten? I cannot cry. You will cry when you indulge in alcohol, and that, really is a crybaby.”

“Don’t say that I’ll cry when I drink!!”

Koremitsu bellowed in the middle of the streets. Any passers-by would have assumed he was drunk if they heard his words, but it seemed relieving to Koremitsu that he was able to pent out all the frustrations gathered within him.”

Though his heart was still burning like fire.

(Is this guy angering me on purpose?)

If it was Hikaru, it might have been possible.

He glanced to the side, and found Hikaru giving a mischievous chuckle, following with a buoyant voice,

“Hey, let us continue with the topic.”

“What topic?”

“Whether the man or the woman was in the wrong, that I thought the man was in the wrong.”

“Stop talking about the past!”

“Well, do hear me out. You are the only one on the planet whom I can talk with. Also, this has something to do with you.”

“…What?”

Koremitsu remained wary as he retorted, and Hikaru gave an amicable face, saying,

“Till this point, I always assumed that I had to protect my flowers, water them, give them fertilizer, remove the parasites, and care for them earnestly. Perhaps the flowers, girls…are sturdier than what we think. After looking at Miss Aoi, Yū, and Miss Shikibu…that was my conclusion.”

The effeminate lips opened and closed, beaming. Though they looked tender, there was a trace of solitude in them.

“Now then…what do you think I need to do?”

If the girls were strong enough not to require protection.

“I guess. What shall you do?”

Hikaru folded his arms and nodded away in response.

“You’re not giving me any advice?”

“Ahaha. I do not have a choice. I only did realize this after I did. Let us think about this together.”

“O-okay.”

Koremitsu gruffly responded.

Perhaps the girls are sturdier than what we think. Hikaru’s words kept repeating in Koremitsu’s heart.

Girls are fragile.

That was Koremitsu’s assumption.

To fulfill the promises Hikaru had yet to fulfill, he got involved with girls, and helped them. It appeared that at this point, they were fragile flowers, easily snapped by the wind. If he did not run over with arms spread out to protect them, they would wilt.

(What about Shikibu?)

That girl strong, has her own thoughts, and can protect himself. Yet why am I still concerned about her?/em>

If Koremitsu, till this point, had been taking action because of the ‘frailty’ exhibited by Hikaru’s flowers, what exactly was Honoka…?

Koremitsu curled his lips, sinking into his own thoughts.

Suddenly, “Ah.” Hikaru blurted.

There was a girl with a neat, pretty face dressed in a local city girls uniform, standing near the doors of Koremitsu’s house. The black hair was shoulder-length, combed to the back, and those clear eyes—

It was the girl who often visited the cafe Aoi worked at, the one Hikaru dubbed as ‘Miss Mint’.

Once he approached her, she spoke with a voice as refreshing as her face.

“I did provide you with my address, but you have yet to contact me.”

On the day of the culture festival, she paid a visit to the juice stand Koremitsu was manning as a member of the Japanese dance club, and left him a namecard with a mail address recorded on it.

 

—My master wishes to talk to you.

 

—The prettiest flower in the world, an angelic woman

 

There seemed to be another meaning to those words…

Hikaru seemed to have noticed something back then, and he kept staring at the girl.

Koremitsu too seemed to have a premonition. He actually intended to contact her after the culture festival ended and meet that master. The commotion that happened thereafter resulted in him forgetting about it.

The namecard still remained in his student handbook.

“Sorry. A lot of things happened.”

“It appears so.”

She answered, sounding as if she knew of Koremitsu’s predicament.

 

“Mikoto.”

 

195

 

Hikaru suddenly called out.

Koremitsu turned to him, and he showed a nostalgic face—followed by a melancholic one.

“You are Mikoto, right? That person’s ‘favorite prized possession’, Mikoto who resembles cool Mint?”

“Are you Mikoto?”

Koremitsu tensed his face as he confirmed, and she merely widened her eyes slightly.

“Yes. I suppose you have heard about me from Mr Hikaru?”

“Yeah.”

After Koremitsu’s reply, Hikaru inquired quietly,

“What do you want from my friend? Mikoto?”

“What do you want to talk to me about?”

“About the Wisteria Mr Hikaru does not know of.”

Hikaru looked startled.

Mikoto averted her glance for just a while. The straight black hair fluttered near the shoulders.

“However, I shall return another day. Please do settle your issues as early as possible, and not spend too much time about it.”

I shall return. After saying that, Mikoto strode away with elegant steps, her back straight, and she vanished into the other end of the narrow residential street..

“That person…what I do not know of.”

Hikaru stated blankly.

(Wisteria? As in Hikaru’s stepmother? Is Mikoto her servant?)

At this moment, the cellphone in his phone rang.

“ENOUGH ALREADY!”

He gruffly opened his phone, and then the message, only to gasp.

12268846_993893420654125_1798023593_o

 

The screen was crammed with words, drifting and floating. He had a feeling that his throat was bitten, he had difficulty breathing, and he let loose a groan from his dry lips.

Hikaru too looked pale as he watched from the side. Koremitsu’s sweat-soaked fingers dialed Yū’s number immediately.

But nobody picked it up! It was a voicemail.

“Let’s get back to Yū!”

“Yes.”

Koremitsu turned around, and sprinted off.

He tried calling Yū a few times, only to be met by the voicemail over and over again. Koremitsu gritted his teeth and clenched his fists.

It would be great if it was just a lousy prank like how it was till this point. He kept praying, his head practically lopped off.

Once he got to the hospital, he stormed to the reception with his eyes bloodshot, only to be told that Yū went out. The blood in his body froze.

 

—It’s a promise.

 

Yū answered with that soft, gentle voice when Koremitsu pleaded with her not to head out on this night.

Yet, she did.

“Where did she go?”

“I didn’t ask.”

The female receptionist answered skeptically.

He pestered her, stating that he forgot something very important, and wanted to go in, emphasizing that he had to be the one to find it. Finally, he was allowed in.

If there was some sort of a hint in the room—

The first thing that entered his sight was the bouquet of crimson flowers placed on the sofa. They were wrapped in tape and wrapping paper.

“It is the Poppy…”

Hikaru’s face contorted.

The petals looked translucent, and the flowers were left on the sofa, not placed in a vase or something, yet it remained alluring, bewitching. The black iris in the middle looked so salacious.

Koremitsu’s face tensed as he held the bouquet in his hands. The crimson flowers swayed due to his carelessness, and a few fell onto the sofa.

“Hm…? What’s inside…”

“What is the matter, Koremitsu?”

“There’s a little bag inside the bouquet of flowers.”

He turned the bouquet upside down, and a transparent bag fell onto the sofa along with the crimson petals.

(Drug capsules…?)

But if it was for flu or gastric issues, why was it put here? It appeared to be put inside deliberately—

“Koremitsu, this is an illegal drug! I saw it before! It was still legal back then, but it causes hallucinations, and has a high chance of addition. It is now prohibited.”

“What did you say!?”

Koremitsu’s blood again boiled due to Hikaru’s words.

“Why is such a thing in Yū’s room!?”

“I do not know. But, maybe—”

Hikaru raised his voice slightly.

“Perhaps the one taking care of Yū has some involvement in drug dealing.”

Yū did say that he helped arrange for the accommodations, flight and everything else, that he was a sincere man.

She even said that the identity of that person was still a secret.

At first, she was delighted. Whenever Koremitsu asked about him later on however, she would look perturbed.

(She said that it’s because of him that she became a volunteer. Is that actually—)

His stomach was wrecked.

“Koremitsu, switch on the computer.”

With Hikaru’s prodding, Koremitsu darted towards the notepad computer on the table, and switched on the power.

Once he affirmed the records, he connected to a suspicious website.

Hikaru, watching from the side, let out a sharp gasp,

“As I had expected…! This is a site for drug dealing! It is done through codename use, but there is no doubt this is it!”

“!!”

The panel also showed a record of drug dealing, and the records was the red flowers—upon seeing that the seller was the Poppy, the palm holding the mouse was covered in sweat.

The long hair and slender body indicated on the website was a girl in her teens. This girl with the appearance of the Poppy was Yū!

It appeared that there was another deal later on. Koremitsu’s eyes remained on the seller, the Poppy, and the customers hoping to make a purchase—and he shivered.

“Hey, this customer is!”

 

—The name is Heliotrope

 

—Hello, Mr Heliotrope.

 

Wait…it isn’t possible—but—

“Shikibu…?”

The moment he uttered that word, he felt dizzy.

“If it is Miss Shikibu, it is possible.”

Hikaru’s words again reached his heart.

Yes, it might possibly be Honoka. He could not think of anyone else who would use an uncommon plant, the Heliotrope, as an online nickname.

The seller was Yū!

The customer was Honoka!

(What is going on here!?)

Koremitsu tried calling Honoka on his phone.

“I’m not getting through!”

“What do we do now, Koremitsu!?”

“What else!? Get to the trading place!”

Just when Koremitsu was about to dash out.

Yū, holding crimson flowers, looked surprised as she stood there.

“Mr Akagi…why?”

“Yū! Didn’t I tell you not to go out!!”

Yū cringed, fidgeting as she answered.

“I dropped…my phone…there’s a map of the place where I’m supposed to work at…so…I came back to get back.”

Yū, who broke the promise, was terrified to know if Koremitsu was furious. She averted her eyes towards the sofa, and showed an awkward face.

“Why…is there another…bouquet…of flowers? Mr Akagi…did you bring it here?”

Over there were the Poppies, exactly the same as the one Yū was holding onto. It was thrown there, the petals all over.

“What are you saying now? Aren’t there drugs inside this one? You’re going to the customer, right? The flowers there are—”

“Ah!”

Koremitsu seized the flowers from Yū’s hand, and inspected it himself.

However, there was nothing other than the faint red flowers. He undid the sash and unraveled the bouquet, only to find none of what he had assumed.

“Yū’s flowers…do not have any drugs…that is…”

Hikaru too frowned.

Yū in turn was terrified by his sudden action of snatching the flowers, and she cringed back, her eyes filled with fear.

Koremitsu brought the drugs to Yū.

“This was inside that bouquet. The computer records also showed the sales history of the ‘Poppy’! Yū, isn’t the place you were where the deal was?”

Yū’s face paled, and she said,

“Drugs…wh-what? The computer history…I only gave the flowers to the old men and chatted with them…”

“Where’s the volunteer work today?”

Frightened, Yū mentioned the location; it was a different place from where the Poppy and Heliotrope were supposed to strike the deal, completely opposite directions.

What exactly was going on?

While his mind was in chaos, the only thing he could affirm was that the one in danger was the Heliotrope Honoka.

“Koremitsu, if we do not stop Miss Shikibu now!”

“Yū, before I get back, don’t you go out! I don’t need a promise now, but anyway, just stay here! Have a look at that computer!”

The voice echoed in the room, causing Yū to shiver.

Without waiting for Yū’s response, he darted out of the room, and ran towards where Honoka was along with Hikaru.

 

That idiot Shikibu!!

Don’t just use the Heliotrope name for fun!

What are you doing!! You idiot!!

Koremitsu’s eyes were bloodshot, his breathing erratic as he glared at the phone like a demon. The other passengers moved away from him, terrified.

(Why did Shikibu know that Yū may be a drug dealer, and didn’t say anything to me. She just did things by herself, and not only that, told me that she doesn’t need help. You got to be kidding!)

Inside his mind was a lot of things he wanted to say to her.

“It is fine, Miss Shikibu will be fine even until you reached her. She is strong. You do know that, right?”

Hikaru encouraged Koremitsu.

(Yeah, that girl’s kick is invincible. I should know after who knows how many kicks I took. If she’s attacked by an assailant from a corner or surrounded by many, what can she do? It’s reckless for her to be trapped, even if she’s strong.)

“Stop ignoring me! Pick up the phone, you idiot!”

One had to wonder how many times he had mentioned the word ‘idiot’. He gritted his teeth as he sent the message, but he yet yet to receive any contact from Honoka.

What should he do at this point.

The train seemed to be moving slower than usual, and his face got more hideous.

He felt anxious, impatient, and to calm himself down, scanned through Honoka’s site, at the blog entries filled with colored words, the cellphone novels that were as sweet as poems, love consultation, and so on.

 

“Hello, Purple Princess ヾ( ′ ▽ `) ノ. Please hear out some of Yuyu’s love troubles.”

 

“Hello, Purple Princess! Help me ° ° (≥Д≤) ° ° !! I said some terrible things to the Mr Y I like!”

 

“Hello there, this is Macaron <{_ _*)>, I have something I am very troubled by. Before this, I told Mr T sitting next to me that I wish to go out with him. I do like him, but I don’t really know whether it’s really a like. I feel anxious. I’m not really sure of my own feelings o(:△;)o”

 

“The advice I received from you a few days back was really helpful, (o^▽^o)l Thanks to you, I managed to confess to Mr U, Purple Princess~~~~~~~~~~~\o(^▽^)o/ . You really are the love expert, Purple Princess. My real real real savior here o(*^ ▽^*)o.”

 

The comments were all filled with the love troubles and discussions girls had. Honoka was dubbed the Purple Princess, the love expert, answering every issue intimately and cheerfully.

 

“Congratulations on your successful confession λ (⌒ -⌒)o∠★! Good for you, Miss Kuya! This isn’t my power here; it’s your hard work that managed to get to him.”

 

“Do apologize to Mr Y immediately, Miss Snow! Don’t send him messages. Tell him directly that you’re sorry. Then, tell him honestly why you said those words. It’s fine. He’ll definitely understand! (^-^)☆”

 

“Miss Macaron, it is worth cheering that you managed to improve your relationship, but you might be feeling uneasy (¯ ^¯ ;;;), that your good relationship till this point may be broken. Isn’t your reply already there though? (*^ ▽^*) 10 years later, when you think of the boys you were with, if the first face you think of is Mr T, that means he’s your ‘special one’.”

 

Koremitsu could practically hear Honoka’s cheerful voice.

 

—Okay! Leave it to me, Akagi!

 

—You really, really, really don’t understand a girl’s feelings at all!

 

—Guess I got no choice. As the love expert, I’ll help you out here.

 

There was neither a speckle of dust, nor a fragment of an illusion.

It was just Honoka, with her chest puffed, her eyebrows raised as she opened her lips, trying to act tough.

The purple Heliotrope blooming towards the sun.

Till this point, one had to wonder how much encouragement, how much help he had received.

Though she was grumbled at a lot when Aoi would not listen to Koremitsu, Honoka still did her best to think of ways to break through Aoi’s heart. Also, she was with Koremitsu, watching the shoe locker since morning, and went through serious rehearsals with the rigid Koremitsu in front of the cat shop.

 

—Hey, Akagi. The cats you saved from drowning in the river yesterday, are they okay?

The same happened when Yū remained shut in her room. “Okay, I’ll help. I’ll be Miss Kanai’s friend. She smiled as she accepted the request. Even when Koremitsu was anxious after being rejected by Yū, she lent him her foldable umbrella, letting him use it as an umbrella.

 

—No, you definitely won’t buy an umbrella. Use it now, or I’ll go with you! 

 

It’ll definitely be useful. She smiled as she handed it to him.

When Shioriko disappeared, and his gut was about to be wrecked, “I’ll look for that girl through the internet.” she began to search through the internet.

When Tsuyako was troubled, after seeing her kiss Koremitsu, she should have been furious, but when Asai raided the clubroom, when Tsuyako was in grave danger, and when Koremitsu came yelling,

 

—I’ll do my best to take care of upperclassman Tsuyako. I’ll encourage her. Don’t think too hard by yourself.

She was always worried about Koremitsu, thinking about him.

And when Koremitsu was frustrated because of Asai.

 

—How about walking with that person?

 

—How about you follow instead of waiting and regretting? If anything happens, you can help that person, and that person might listen to your suggestions. If it’s me, I’ll definitely follow

 

The earnest words caused Koremitsu to not remain perplexed.

Back then, the wide path was paved in front of him.

The same happened during the commotion over Sora’s pregnancy, or when Koremitsu became a committee member during the culture festival, a role he was unfamiliar with, or whenever he was overwhelmed by the workload, Honoka would always push aside her own matters to help him.

One by one, he recalled that clumsy sincerity of Honoka, that obvious worry, the riveting, powerful encouragements, the pure innocence of not need anything in return.

They oozed out, causing bitterness in his chest.

 

“To be honest, I’m not a love expert at all.”

 

At the end, there was Honoka’s entry.

 

“I never had a dating experience with a guy, and I have crush on my classmate. Like everyone, I’ll feel flustered whenever I think about that guy I like. That guy has the appearance of a delinquent, and has a gruff way of speaking. However, he’s really kind at heart, very manly, and won’t love anyone alone when they’r in trouble. He’s a really, really good guy. A good man. I always swiveled around on the chair, wondering how do I convey these feelings to him.”

Koremitsu was momentarily breathless as he stared at the words shown on the little screen.

He did not hear the tremors of the train, nor the departure bell.

All he heard was Honoka’s voice echoing in his ears.

“I was never viewed as a girl by that guy. That guy likes someone completely opposite of me. She’s a graceful, delicate girl, and I have no hope at all. Even so, I still can’t stop loving him. I don’t mind if my love in unrequited. I don’t mind if he just thinks of me as a friend. I love that guy, and I want to be his strength.

Why did Honoka keep this secret from Koremitsu and investigated on Yū alone?

Why did she have to do such a dangerous thing, to buy drugs.

Honoka yelled that he did not need to protect her—Honoka would protrude her lips when in doubt—Honoka would seem ready to burst into tears whenever he was not available—the different sides of her appeared in front of him.

 

“I’m not a love expert, and I’m sorry for not saying this all this time. However, my feelings of wanting to cheer everyone on isn’t a lie. Whether this love will actually happen or not, the efforts clearly aren’t for naught. That’s why, let’s do our best, everyone. I’ll do my best!”

 

he continued to scroll down the cellphone, but he could not do so, for it appeared to be the perfect ending.

Koremitsu read everything down to the last line, and dejectedly muttered,

“…you idiot.”

 

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