It was an early afternoon of summer vacation.
The number of people riding the train seemed less than the usual.
I rode the train past several stations and got off at Tsudanuma station. I went through the ticket gates and turned right. From there, I entered the thin waves of people and continued on.
At the Sasaki Seminar of Tsudanuma Institute, summer courses were being held that targeted second years in high school. Students who were looking to buckle down on their entrance exams were already well on their way towards preparing starting this season.
But even so, we were still second years. A lax atmosphere pervaded the surroundings indicating that there was still room to take it easy.
If we were third years, there’d be sparks and electricity flying all over. There were even times where you’d get chased out of the lecture room for falling asleep in the middle of the lecture.
Afterwards, you’d be brought to some place resembling a drawing-room and get yelled at by the lecturer, and be told by a tutor halfway through, “…Do you want to change lectures?” with an admonishing tone; At least, that’s what they said on the internet.
The classroom where a class of private-university difficulty targeting second year high school students was near empty.
Lectures were five days a week. The curriculum was set to teach English and Modern Japanese together for five days and optionally social studies.
A few days ago, I had finished up all the lectures for social studies, so today onwards, my schedule would consist of English and Modern Japanese lectures.
Due to no one noticing my entry into the room, I took a seat closest from the door at the front.
It’s standard for seats to be designated as VIP seats, so it’s an established fact that the most prominent cliques would occupy them. Since getting involved with them would only beget suffering, my seat was either one at the very front or somewhere in the middle. The seats that loners should aim for were the ones on the side edges since they were in good blind spots. Well, it might be difficult to see the blackboard, but you could concentrate easily in class; actually, it’s because no one talked to you that you had to concentrate. Then again, that’s a plus.
I promptly took out my textbooks and notes. I rested my cheeks in my hands in a daze until the lecture started.
I waited patiently for the scheduled time while watching groups of friends spend their time engaging in seemingly enjoyable chats.
Next summer, this peaceful mood would probably disappear.
High school exams were the same way.
Those who managed to receive a recommendation were maliciously insulted while those who passed were cursed from the shadows. I had a feeling which was almost definite that the same things would happen even after we turned into third years. And then four years later, the cycle would repeat when you were job hunting for sure. The nature of people wouldn’t change whether it was three years or seven.
But right now, what I should be focused on was not the past, but what’s in front of me. So for starters, I had to look towards university exams.
Those who started early would shift their attentions towards exams starting this summer and get serious. The first pressing goal was the center exams. Put the goal at the center and get serious… Put the goal at the center and get serious… Put the goal at the center… As I ran simulations with vacant eyes, someone appeared at the corner of my vision. As if shouting angrily, “Idiot! The explosions are obscuring my vision of the enemy!” I came to my senses in an instant.
Her dark blue hair tied into one bundle dangled down past her long back. Her tall figure looked flexible and attracted people’s attention. She sported a long-T shirt with sleeves covering three-fourths of her arm, denim short pants, and leggings and had a sack lightly dangling over her shoulders. She walked apathetically in her sandals that rubbed against the floor.
When that girl walked past in front of me, she stopped. Finding her actions unnatural, I directed my eyes at her.
“…So you’re taking classes here, too.”
A drowsy voice spoke to me along with a cold gaze. Under her grumpy looking eyes was a mole.
She seems awfully familiar. Who was she again…?
“I might as well tell you now. Thanks.”
I had no idea why she was thanking me, but it didn’t seem like she got the wrong person. It’s not a common occurrence for a loner to be spoken to. Unless it’s something important, no one spoke to loners.
“You know how you told me about that scholarship? I managed to get it. Things are going okay with Taishi, too.”
The name “Taishi” had a familiar, but unpleasant ring to it. After querying my “I definitely won’t forgive” list, I had a hit on the name Kawasaki Taishi. Hoho, isn’t that the poisonous insect that was trying to get close to Komachi?
So was this person related to him?
After I looked at her dark blue hair, I realized something.
Blood Type Blue!1 Kawa… Kawagoe? Kawashima? Kawaragi…? Okay, I guess anything works. It’s Kawasomething-san!
I thought she was GaGaGa Bunko2 for a second there with how blue she was…
“Uh, yeah, sure. You’re the one that made the scholarship happen, though.”
For now, I went along with her conversation and then her name popped up in my mind. Her name was Kawasaki Saki.
“I guess, but Taishi just keeps talking about you… Whatever. Anyway, I gave you my thanks,” said Kawasaki, telling me only that as if it was her obligation and left.
It was a curt exchange, but Kawasaki Saki was just that kind of girl. She chose to be alone and not approach anyone and gave off a teeny aura of delinquency.
A girl like that spoke to me of her own accord. It felt like her attitude had gotten rather soft. Intrigued by that change, I found myself following her with my eyes.
She took a seat three rows behind me, took out her cellphone, and moved her fingers. Judging by her behavior, she was probably typing a mail.
And there, Kawasaki broke into a smile.
…Huh, so she can make those kinds of expressions, too. I mean, usually she’d look out of it and look either really aggressive or overpowering. But anyway, that’s a face you couldn’t see at school. Then again, I don’t recall ever seeing her at school either. It’s a basic for fellow loners not to interfere with each other.
As I watched her thinking how I saw something rare, our eyes met.
The completely flushed Kawasaki made an incredible glare at me. Oh dear, what’s with that person? So scary! I shook my head as if “my shoulders were completely frozen!” and then made the effort to remove myself from Kawasaki’s gaze.
Nevermind, she didn’t get softer at all. You’re at a prep school for crying out loud, at least mellow out a bit. Round out that square head3 of yours.
× × ×
Once the English lecture ended, there was a short break. I went down the stairs and bought a can of MAX COFFEE from a vending machine. I made my way back to the classroom I was in earlier while sipping it.
As for everyone else who took the same lecture, each of them was minding their own business; they were fiddling with their phones, reading a book, or staring at the textbook for the upcoming modern Japanese lecture.
Most people generally tend to be by themselves and in this situation in particular, loners were the majority as opposed to our regular schooling.
The situation was also different at the cram school I attended when i was in middle school.
Cram schools back then were ultimately just an extension of your daytime schooling and made it only more apparent that those who had no place to belong in middle school had no place anywhere else. And since everyone’s relationships carried over to the lectures, they were considerably irritable spaces to be in.
Because of that, you became desperate to rise to the more advanced classes. For every tier you went up, the quietness of the classroom would increase as well as the range of lectures and student learning levels.
Now that I think back on it, perhaps people only hung out with others so they could justify their stay in the lower classes.
They halted all of their efforts using their friends as a reason and sought friendship as an excuse to stay in lukewarm waters. This model inspired situations like couples wanting to attend the same high school together or adjusting your level and bringing down your standards when choosing schools to go to.
Back then, those conversations in class that found their way to my ears really gave me the chills.
If you were really thinking of the other person, then you shouldn’t be holding him back nor should you be pampering him in the first place. You were really just opting for the easy way out all so you could indulge in the continuity of your slovenly every day life.
On top of that, if you got wind of the rumor that you broke up within two months after getting into the same high school, you wouldn’t be suffering from abdominal pain on one side of your stomach, let alone the other; you’d be well on your way towards getting peritonitis. And that’s where you’d say you were young to try to justify it, right?
Perhaps it’s because I was observant to all of this on the side. I didn’t believe for a second in friendships that were only in appearance or love like that. I had no faith in the type of kindness that indulged in self-sacrifice used for excuses or the type of kindness that’s full of deception.
So regarding that point, the system of prep schools was good.
There’s moderate intervention with the students as well as indifference between students. By eliminating all the processes that were unnecessary to studying, they were able to design an optimized system of efficiency. The cram school I attended back in middle school was considerably painful because of how buddy-buddy the students were with the lecturers… After all, most people were called by their first names while I was the only one called by my last…
Of course, lecturers and students could get along with each other just fine at prep schools if they wanted to. Like the system of tutors—basically university students working part-time—who acted as student support staff. Apparently, they didn’t help with just your studies, but also served as personal and career consultants. It’s like openly welcoming anyone who wanted to act in an emotionally, moving teacher-pupil movie on exams.
Fundamentally, preparatory schools had cool and solid atmospheres. You were also liable to feeling even the cold sometimes. That atmosphere was comfortable for me.
People like normalfags (lol) could be found anywhere. If I drew a map of how their habitats were distributed, it’d be on the level of pill bugs and wharf roaches. I just don’t understand why’d they want to be something the world was so full of already.
Good grief, swarms of them… It’s because it’s summer that they became so active. That’s what made them like insects, too. And since I hated insects, it’s a painful season.
× × ×
I was assaulted by a peculiar feeling of despondency when the lecture finished, possibly proof that I had concentrated for the past 90 minutes.
Unlike the good feeling of exhaustion you get from sports, exhaustion from studying felt like your spirit was gradually hanging over your head. All the glucose in my head had all been consumed and if it wasn’t for the MAX COFFEE I had earlier, I would’ve been in a much worse condition. TONE Coca-Cola Bottling Company should definitely produce some products as a collaboration with test taking students; they’d probably sell.
Now that my lectures for the day were over, I began preparing to head home.
Loners were the most energetic when it’s time to head home.
Fortunately, Tsudanuma was considerably advanced for an entertainment district. There was an abundance of book stores and arcades. It’s a district that wouldn’t leave any high school boy bored.
As I pondered over where to stop by on my way back home, there were taps at the edge of the table.
I looked in the direction of the taps and Kawasaki Saki was standing with a grumpy look. What? If you need something, say something. Do you have woodpeckers for parents?
“…Do you need something?”
Since she was giving off a “Hear me out, damn it!” aura, I decided to obediently ask her for her business. When I did, Kawasaki hesitantly let out a small sigh. Jeez, if you have a problem with me, then don’t talk to me. Which is it?
“Hey, are you free?”
“Uh, I actually have some stuff to do.”
I automatically spat out a cliché phrase I used when refusing something. This act of preserving equilibrium by rejecting an invitation was more or less an instinct at this point. It’s a sensible act in today society’s on the same vein as “don’t pick up unknown phone numbers”.
Most of the time, people would simply back off going, “Ohhh, right, uh huh.” That’s what they’d do, but the fact they gave up so easily meant their invitation was just a common courtesy. Heck, they looked totally relieved when they were refused. Good grief, be more careful, would you? I feel there were times where it’d be better to not invite someone out of kindness.
But it didn’t look like Kawasaki had invited me as a common gesture. Actually, I wasn’t even sure if this woman knew how to be that polite. She’s pretty outspoken especially since she didn’t cower away from Yukinoshita or Hiratsuka-sensei.
Kawasaki’s listless eyes narrowed. “Like what?”
“Uh, well, you know, stuff… Like, with my little sister.”
I brought out Komachi’s name as an act of desperation. Kawasaki slightly nodded. “Oh really. Good. Mind coming with me for a bit?”
“Huh?” I responded briefly for an explanation.
Kawasaki tiredly answered, “I don’t really have any business with you, but Taishi does. He’s here at Tsudanuma right now.”
Huh, I see. So that meant she was mailing her little brother earlier. She must’ve had some kind of brother complex if she made a smile like that in the middle of her mail. Oh, but she did seem like she’d have a complex about her bras, too. If they’re too big, they had little to offer in terms of cuteness. That’s what my flat sister said!
“Sorry, but I don’t have any reason to spare your little brother any of my ti—.”
“Your little sister’s with him though.”
“What, okay, where should we go? Are they close? Can we get to them by feet within five minutes? Should we run?”
Say that first.
She made a disgusted face for an instant, but I didn’t pay Kawasaki any attention and promptly got to my feet. I left the classroom with Kawasaki following behind me.
“It’s the Saizeriya right outside of this place. Know where it is?”
“Don’t look down on me. I know every single thing about the Saizeriya, especially the one next to the Sobu Line.”
Heck, I even knew where the very first Saizeriya store was located. Saizeriya’s origins started in Motoyawata. Although they weren’t running any businesses over there, they had signs set up there.
It totally made me want to write on the signs that the “Tora no Ana” office and its distribution centers were actually in Motoyawata.
I exited through the entrance of the institute into the oppressively hot street. There wasn’t even a slightest breeze as the sunrays that were as though they were distorted by the heat poured down on me.
The time between lectures. With people heading back and coming from the station, the density of people in this neighborhood skyrocketed.
Kawasaki and I barely made any conversation as we maneuvered our way through openings of the waves of people. I typically acted independently, so I had become rather skilled at choosing empty paths to walk through. From here on was Stealth Hikki’s time to shine!4
Apparently, Komachi and the poisonous insect were at the nearby Saizeriya.
How convenient. There were knives, forks, and an abundance of lethal weapons at my disposal. Even better, I could rub his face with a hot, hot Milano Doria after smashing it into him like a pie. I just needed to superimpose, *The staff deliciously accepted the food and everything should be fine. They should forgive me for everything with that. And afterwards, I could finish him off by rubbing tar sauce on his open wounds.
I could feel my Soul Gem turning completely black.5 Whoa, not good. At this rate, I’ll become a magical girl. Let’s think about fun things instead… So when’s “Magical Girl Totsuka ☆ Saika” gonna start?
My feelings reached an explosive point as I waited for the traffic signals and Kawasaki who had been a step behind me opened her mouth. “By the way, Yukinoshita was taking the summer courses, too.”
“…Ohh, that so.”
Hearing her name caused me to react late.
As I recall, Yukinoshita was supposedly aiming to go to a national school for the sciences. Kawasaki seemed to be taking those lectures as well. Well, in this season, it’s natural if you still hadn’t figured out what schools you wanted to go to. The only reason I was aiming for a private school for the liberal arts was because I was a complete wreck in mathematics. While we’re at it, my only choice in the future was to be a full-time house husband.
“I thought so before, but it really is hard to approach her.”
You’re one to talk… You do realize that you’re always emitting that scary aura that girls and even guys were afraid of, right?
“Why are you looking at me?”
She narrowed her uninterested eyes and gave me a piercing stare. I frantically looked away. I just found it easy to imagine how Yukinoshita and Kawasaki would act in a classroom. While they attracted everyone’s attention, there wasn’t a single person who’d approach them.
That behavior was very representative of them, but I felt the things that were at their roots were completely different.
Kawasaki’s aggressiveness came from her poor ability to communicate, but I felt there was more underneath it. It’s the stereotypical pattern where she’d say too little. I think she’s just a bad speaker. If you saw her love for her little brother, you could tell at least that much.
On the other hand, Yukinoshita was never really trying to be aggressive. It’s just she herself was a form of aggression. People who were superior were dazzling. They evoked inferiority complexes and jealousy from others. It’s those things that caused her to be barred away from her surroundings and be subjected to spite. But even worse, Yukinoshita was the type to completely confront that maliciousness and crush it into a pulp.
If Kawasaki’s actions were a means to guard herself through intimidation, then Yukinoshita’s actions were always aimed for retribution.
The traffic signals turned green.
When I walked out, Kawasaki raised her voice in restraint. “…Hey. Could you thank her for me? I never really managed to find the right time to tell her in the end.”
“Tell her yourself.”
“Well, I’d like to, but it’s like, kinda awkward.”
Finding it peculiar that Kawasaki’s voice was somewhat timid, I looked at her. She dropped her eyes and walked on while looking at the ground. “There’s always someone you can’t get along with even if it’s not their fault, right?”
Yes. That’s certainly true.
That’s why the biggest compromise you could make was not to interfere with each other. The decision to not involve yourself was also a way to be on mutual terms.
Getting close and friendly, chatting with a smile, going out and having fun together; they weren’t just ways to get involved with others. They did those things to establish an appropriate distance with others so they wouldn’t be detested, an act which I think deserved praise.
This was probably how Kawasaki saw Yukinoshita.
You had no choice but to accept it, but you still couldn’t approach that person. It’s because you understood that nothing good would come from the both of you taking that step for each other, that you were confident that you’d just hurt each other. That’s why you kept your distance. This wasn’t running away or trying to be evasive, but a realistic way to handle the situation; a display of respect.
“Also, I don’t think we’ll be meeting for a while. If I don’t see her in the lectures, then the next time would be the start of school, right? Our classes are different, too. But you can meet her for club or something, right?”
“No, I don’t think I’ll be seeing her until school either.”
At the very least, we wouldn’t see each other voluntarily. When I think about it, my relationship with Yukinoshita was exactly that. Unless we were compelled to, we wouldn’t approach each other. It’s not like I knew her number anyway.
Once we made it past the crosswalk, we descended down a flight of stairs that led underneath a building. Footsteps weakly echoed.
“And even if we do meet, it’s not like we’ll actually talk about anything.”
“True. It’s not like we talk about anything either.”
Actually, if you talked to me, I’d respond back properly, you know? As a matter of fact, I was incredibly courteous to the point that it’d be creepy. But if I knew the person I was talking to was a loner like Kawasaki, we were like birds of a feather which made it easier for me to act as I wanted.
As we continued climbing down, we were on the first floor of the underground.
After entering the store through the automatic door, Komachi was sitting at the table immediately next to the drink bar. When she saw me, she waved her hand. “Ohh, onii-chan.”
“Ohh.” I briefly responded and sat next to her. Ahead of me was a middle school student with a name resembling Sano Yakuyoke Daishi6. When our eyes met, he bowed his head.
“Hey onii-san, sorry for bothering you.”
“Don’t call me onii-san. I’ll kill you.”
“Hey, you picking a fight with my little brother?”
Kawasaki had silently taken a seat in front of me and was radiating with wrath.
Holy, she’s staring daggers at me! People with brother complexes were seriously creepy. Doting on a blood relative was totally creepy. Like totally creepy.
While Taishi soothed Kawasaki who was growling with intimidation, I sounded the bell and promptly made my order.
I asked for a drink bar for two people. Since Kawasaki was frightening, I gave up on face smashing with the Milano Doria.
As they would in the business world, I took my coffee and sipped it before getting down to business.
“So, didn’t you need me for something?”
“Yes. The thing is, I wanted to ask you stuff about Sobu High.”
“Uh, ask your sister right there.”
Kawasaki went to my school and she was even in my class. I had to make sure of that, otherwise, I had the feeling I’d forget her.
“I really want to hear what another guy thought about it!”
For some reason, Taishi was gripping his fist. Why does he look so into it…?
But he could fire all sorts of questions at me, but the answers I could give weren’t really anything that great.
“There’s nothing particularly special about our school. I imagine it’s not all that different from other high schools. I guess our school events might differ just a little though, like how flashy our Cultural Festival could be or the levels of our clubs.”
I didn’t really know for sure since I had never seen other high schools before, but that’s my impression of them. At the very least, if we limited the schools to the ones with the standard, full curriculum, then it shouldn’t be a problem putting many schools under a typical category. Ignoring the schools with special curriculums, most schools weren’t all that distinct. In fact, my image of high school before and after was mostly the same.
My one miscalculation was having to join the Service Club.
“Mm? But if the school’s standard test score averages are different, wouldn’t the school atmosphere be different?” Komachi curiously tilted her head.
“Well, I think having a higher average leads to less delinquents. That’s not going to change those who admire delinquents though.”
I shifted my gaze diagonally from me. When Kawasaki noticed that, she glared back. “And why are you looking at me…? I don’t admire them.”
Oh, was I wrong? It’s just, I couldn’t help but get the feeling you’d say something like, “Not the face, go for the body, the body”7 so…
I cleared my throat as if hiding the fact I was pressured by Kawasaki’s glare and started over. “Right, so the gist is, the only thing that changes is the ratio of people from your middle school to the people in high school. And so, everyone tries to act like a ‘high schooler’ and it gets really annoying.”
“Oh, act like a ‘high schooler’, huh?” Taishi tilted his head not understanding what I was getting at.
“I don’t know what you’re hoping for, but when it comes down to it, everyone’s just acting as if they’re getting closer to their ideal of a “high school student” often see in fiction. It’s superficial stuff like that for the most part.”
I’m sure an unwritten law like, “One must act like a high school student” existed somewhere.
High School Student Ordinance
One. A high school student shall have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Two. A high school student shall be surrounded by many a friend and be stupidly loud.
Three. A high school student shall be like a “high school student” in dramas and movies.
Those who defy the aforementioned clauses shalt disembowel themselves.
Or something like that.
If I had to say, it’s similar to how people would admire the Shinsengumi—Hijikata Toshizou’s samurai code in particular—for their samurai-likeness instead of actually being one.
If you wanted to combine ideals with reality, then you had to do the impossible somewhere.
For example, boys went out of their way to become popular by humoring a girl through mails, treat them whenever the chance came up, and appeal to them by being as loud as possible. But truthfully, they were really just docile people.
Or maybe even the girls who wanted to get along with others by taking up fashion that’s all the rage (lol), attend mixers just so the numbers were even, and listen to the latest hit J-POP songs. But truthfully, they had hobbies that were more proper and more in line with maidens.
But even so, they’d strive to do all that. All so they didn’t veer off from being “normal”. They didn’t want to be excluded out of the value of being “everyone”.
“Ooph… I think I heard stuff I didn’t want to hear…” Taishi made a gloomy expression after listening to what I said.
“Well, this is just the point of view from someone twisted. If you really do want to get along with someone, then you better be prepared to sacrifice something.”
It’s a lot of trouble living differently from others, but living the same as others was just as hard. Living’s hard.
“Oh oops. Looks like everyone’s almost done with their drinks.”
Komachi hummed a tune to loosen up the heavy atmosphere and collected everyone’s cups. It looks like she was going to get more drinks. Seeing that, Kawasaki stood up. “I’ll go too. I don’t think you’ll be able to carry everything.”
Komachi thankfully accepted her proposal and the two headed for the drink bar.
I vaguely watched them leave.
After that, Taishi shot up his face as if remembering something. He made curious glances in the direction of Kawasaki and Komachi and then inched his body closer to me.
“A-Ahem… It might be kind of weird asking this,” said Taishi, leaning forward with a whispering voice. “But how are the girls? Are they cute? Like Yukinoshita-san, she’s super beautiful, right?”
——Hoho, so he wanted to talk about this all along. So his energy from the start was because he wanted to ask about this.
When he posed me the question, I gave it some thought. Well, if I had to say, it certainly did seem like there were a lot of girls at our school…
Actually, in my school life, the only impressions I had were “cute girls” and “funny faces that left an impact”. That’s why I didn’t remember much about any normal girls.
“You’re right, there certainly are a lot of cute girls. There’s this International Liberal Arts class and it’s comprised of 90% girls. So that basically means there are a lot of girls. Therefore, the percentage of beautiful girls increases.”
“Ohh! That’s a Dreamy Situation8!”
What’s with that catch phrase that only Bandai would say? That’s like, a Dreamy Creation. But still, I had to tell him straight.
“But look here, Taishi…” I continued my words in a slow, but understandable manner. “You know what mom says all the time. You might like a cute girl, but that doesn’t mean she’ll like you back.”
“M-My eyes have been opened!” Taishi shot open his eyes as if he had been struck by lightning and had gone through an epiphany his initial intensity disappearing off somewhere.
“The important thing is to know when to give up. If push doesn’t come to shove, then give up. A journey of a thousand miles begins by giving up9 is an important mentality to have.”
Nowadays, I’d like to also suggest, “Know your enemy, know thyself, and you shall give up on hundreds of battles.”10
“Besides, do you think you can get along with someone like Yukinoshita?”
“That’s true… At least, I don’t think I can! That person’s kinda scary!”
An exceedingly honest opinion. I’d love to present him several types of axes. Rather than an unattainable flower, she was a flower that bloomed in the Guiana Highlands.
To people who didn’t know Yukinoshita Yukino very well, she was somehow scary, needlessly overbearing, and might even appear arrogant.
That’s how I saw her at first… That is, um, only if our first chance encounter had been at the club, though.
“Kuh, Sobu High… A frightening place, I say…” Taishi shuddered for some reason and spoke differently.
Since it irritated me a bit, I decided to finish him off. “Your environment might change, but that doesn’t mean you will. Thinking something will change once you get into high school is nothing but an illusion. You’d better stop dreaming now.”
First, I’ll destroy that screwed up illusion of yours!11 Haha, okay, well, I used to have those expectations at some point before, too. But that kind of high school life was just a distant Utopia. Informing him of reality now was a form of kindness.
“Hey, stop bullying him so much,” said Komachi, just returning from the drink bar. She placed the glasses on the table and poked me in the head.
Wroooong! I wasn’t bullying him. I was just teasing him, that’s all. I did a little grumbling internally like how elementary students would make excuses. Then again, I could really imagine those guys saying stuff like that.
“You don’t need to take him seriously, Taishi. Anyway… just think about passing first.” Kawasaki sat next to Taishi, sipped her cup, and stated.
Taishi’s body shook for an instant and he groaned. “Urgh…”
“Is he having trouble?”
“Honestly, he’s cutting it close with his level. That’s why I’m always telling him to study…” Kawasaki answered my question in place of Taishi. The added lecture caused Taishi to lower his head.
To make him feel better, Komachi encouraged him. “It’ll be fine, Taishi-kun. Even if you don’t end up at Sobu High but at an entirely different school from me, I’ll still be your friend! No matter what happens, we’ll always be friends!”
“N-No matter what happens, we’ll always be friends… S-Sure…”
“Yep, absolute friends. We’ll be primatal friends♪!”
That was the final nail in the coffin… I was perfectly fine with it as her older brother, but as a fellow male, I could sympathize. It’s pitiful seeing him driven into the corner like that.
“Well, you know, how about a goal? If you have something you can work hard for, then you’ll be able to try harder,” I said.
Taishi lifted his face. “A goal?”
“Yeah. This isn’t something I can boast about, but in my case, I tried pretty damn hard when I thought about how I’d go to a school those guys in middle school wouldn’t definitely go to. Every year, there’s only one person from my middle school who goes to Sobu High.”
“You really can’t boast about that at all…” Kawasaki made a bitter smile. That’s only because you were drinking coffee, right?
“For me, it’s because onii-chan goes there!”
“Yes, yes, we know, we know.”
I ignored her opportunistic appeal and Taishi made a serious look and faced Kawasaki. “Nee-chan, did you have one, too?” He asked.
She placed the cup down. “I… forget about me, okay?” She thought briefly, but then turned her face away.
But I had an idea of what her reason was. If that got across to Taishi, I’m sure it’d help with his motivation, too…
“…Well, if you’re looking to aim for a national or public school with cheap tuition, our high school’s pretty amazing in that regard.”
“Hey, don’t say more than you need to!” Kawasaki frantically gave me a glare. But her face that turned red from embarrassment had no impact at all. Fool. The feeble eyes of a brocon were not worth fearing.
Taishi looked like he heeded my words and nodded. “Oh okay…”
I’m sure there were all kinds of reasons.
Not just for Kawasaki Saki, but even for others.
Just as there were people who chose arbitrarily, there were people who could only decide on one thing.
Not all answers were refreshing and positive. If someone decided on something regardless of what cowardly and pessimistic method they used, I think that’s fine.
“I’ve decided. I’m gonna go to Sobu High!” Taishiki informed me with a reassured expression.
“Well, give it your best shot,” I told him with my true feelings… But after giving it more thought, Komachi was aiming for my high school, too.
“…If you make it, I’ll show you a good time. And by good time, I mean a good time in a Sumo match.”
“You look ready to kill me, you know!?”
Kawasaki sent me a harsh stare in defense of the frightened Taishi. After that, I looked over the bill.
“So are you guys done? It’s almost time for us to go home.”
I looked at the clock and it was nearing the time for dinner. I took out a 1,000 yen bill from my wallet, placed it on the table, and stood up from my seat.
Taishi answered with a yes and stood up and bowed to me.
“Onii-san! Thank you very much.”
“Oh, stop it… Because your chances of ever calling me onii-san completely went out the window earlier.”
“That’s what you meant!?”
Watching our exchange from the side, Komachi tapped her chin with her index finger and tilted her head.
“Hmm? But if Saki-san gets married with onii-chan, it wouldn’t be weird for him to call you onii-san, right?” said Komachi, bluntly.
Kawasaki stood up in a frantic. “A-Are you an idiot!? What’s with your little sister!? L-Like hell that’ll ever happen!”
I could hear voice coming from her back as she left the store. Making sure she couldn’t hear me, I murmured with a bitter smile. “Damn straight. I won’t be marrying anyone unless it’s someone who’ll take care of me.”
“There he goes again! Onii-chan’s scumbag defense!”
“Hey stop it, don’t call it defense.”
It’s anything but that. “Have someone raise me” was called an absolute front.
Today as well.
All quiet on the absolute front.12
- Blood Type Blue – Evangelion ↩
- GaGaGa Bunko – Publisher ↩
- The logo of a prep school, Nichinoken ↩
- A reference to Momoko “Stealth Momo” Touyoko who often says this line. ↩
- Madoka ↩
- Sano Yakuyoke Daishi – Another name for Kawasaki Daishi which is a temple. ↩
- A line said by Junko Mihara from Kinpachi-sensei 3-B, a television drama. ↩
- Dreamy Situation – Bandai Catchphrase ↩
- Original phrase is “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”. ↩
- Original phrase is “Know your enemy, know thyself, and you shall win hundreds of battles.” ↩
- Kamijou Touma’s pet phrase in To Aru no Majutsu Index ↩
- Reference to the novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front” ↩