The Girls Who Traumatized Me Volume 2 Chapter 1

Chapter One: “One Step Too Late
Is this what it means to be at a loss? No matter how strong my mental strength is, with a Mohs hardness of 10, the hardest substance in the world, equal to azuki ice cream, even I can be shocked sometimes.
My knees even laugh. Knees: “Kyahahahahaha!”
A complete idiot who lights the fire and trips himself up.
That’s me, the arsonist thief Yukito Kukuri, reformed.
In an attempt to help my childhood friend Suzurikawa Hinagi, I spread bad rumors about myself, and now I’m the most hated person in school, just as I had eagerly anticipated. But the effects weren’t as strong as I expected. I had hoped that this would allow me to live a quiet, peaceful loser’s life. Quite the miscalculation, as it turns out.
My goal was to become such an inconspicuous presence that If I was invited out with a group, I couldn’t join the conversation, and when I realized I wasn’t needed there, I could quietly slip away. But my brilliant plan didn’t work out at all.
However, it’s my own fault for not following through completely. Contrary to the rumors, Hinagi and Nee-san, who were supposed to avoid me, have actually grown closer since the riot.
I suggested that Hinagi keep her distance, but she absolutely refused.
Sato and Miyahara are still hanging around my class.
In this situation, it’s hard to give much credibility to the bad reputation. Halved effectiveness. In the end, it’s just that I couldn’t make a full commitment.
My ambition to be shunned by the whole school has crumbled here. I need a new strategy.
But come to think of it, maybe it’s only natural. No matter how much of a scumbag I am, no matter how far I go to do evil deeds, it doesn’t matter to the bystanders.
After all, I’m a complete stranger to them. They have neither the time nor the energy to bother with someone so irrelevant.
And so my days go on, but it seems that those around me are unhappy with the status quo. Especially Sato and the others, they’re busy spreading uplifting stories about clearing my name. Are they wandering minstrels of the Reiwa era?
Since their goal is contrary to mine, it’s rather annoying despite the pure goodwill, but I can’t bring myself to interfere with their pure good intentions, so I have no choice but to let it go, which frustrates me to no end.
“Do you have a handkerchief?”
“Hai.” (Yes)
And so my days go, walking hand in hand to school with my dear older sister, Yuri.
After it was discovered that I was behind the flaming riot, her overprotectiveness has grown more intense by the day. I suppose she wants to prove the rumors completely false by flaunting this for everyone to see.
“You have your lunch box, right?”
“Hai.” (Yes)
You know, I think that’s about it. I’ve never seen her snap like that before. Her anger led to a seraphic ascension, it seems.
She also despises Hinagi like a viper. My only recourse is to desperately beg for mercy.
“How is your mood?”
I can’t upset her any more. Just repeat rote responses no matter what she says. I definitely can’t make excuses or talk back. She’s scary, after all.
“You love me?”
“Hai.” (Yes)
“What do you love about me?”
“Hai.” (肺 = lung)
“Hmm, I see. So you want me so much?”
“Hai” (胚 = embryo)
“Oh, really. Do you want me that much?”
“Hai, huh?”
“I see. Give me some time to prepare, okay? I’ll give you an answer by tonight.”
“Huh? Wait, wait! What are you talking about?”
In the midst of my vague answer, a major disaster had unfolded.
What are you talking about? Hey, what are you talking about?
“Onee-san, will do the best.”
That meaningful, charming smile is so mysterious, you know. This is not the time!
The entrance. She lets go of my hand as Onee-san walks to her classroom.
“Please, not that! I beg you, I beg youuuu!”
The red string that binds our little fingers comes loose. She had tied it on me after grabbing my collar in anger and declaring, “If you really want to sever ties with me that badly, do it if you can!” Pretty thick and stiff for string. It’s that red and blue stuff you see in bomb defusing scenes. Less a red string of fate, more a red VVF cable of fate, I suppose.
Cutting the ties is one thing, but removing the insulation without damaging the core is surprisingly difficult. She obviously chose it for its durability, but is that really the issue here?
“Good morning, Kokonoe Yukito! As loving siblings as ever, I see!”
As I hurriedly tried to follow my sister, I was stopped by an enthusiastic upperclassman.
“Actually, I wanted to ask you something, do you have a moment?”
“I don’t.”
“Come on, it’ll only take a second.”
I’m dragged into the third-year classroom. Can’t I have a moment of peace in this school?

“What’s wrong, Yukito? You seem pretty nervous.”
“I was just lecturing an ignorant third grader.”
The guy with the solar panels on his face was being eco-friendly as usual today.
“What are you doing this early in the morning…”
“Afterwards I pleaded with an unreasonable second year, but I’m worried if I got through to that person.”
A hint of uneasiness flashes through me when I see that Nee-san is in a strangely good mood.
“There must be a storm brewing today for Yukito to lecture about common sense.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean it as an insult! I shouldn’t say things like that, sorry!”
Noticing her childhood friend’s misinterpretation, she quickly correct herself.
“It’s going to be cloudy and then sunny today. Clear this afternoon, I hear.”
“That’s just like you, Yukito.”
My childhood friend looks back with a desperate expression, but what’s wrong?
“Anyway, the Interhigh is coming soon, right? What are you going to do?”
“Leave it to this refreshing Ikemen.”
Enthusiastic senior Himura-senpai has the same sparkling, expectant eyes.
But the reality is cold and hard. What am I going to do? Nothing I can do, right?
The Interhigh Preliminaries are next month, but for our weak basketball team, it’s a distant affair. Given our current state, elimination in the first round is all but guaranteed.
Normally, this tournament wouldn’t be that relevant for freshmen, but unfortunately, our club has just enough members that even we freshmen can easily make the regular lineup.
My only role is to help Himura-senpai as much as I can.
And in the beginning, I only joined basketball out of a selfish desire to respond to Hinagi and Shiori’s determination. I wanted to change. I felt I had to or I’d be finished.
At that time, I was burdened with emotions that I no longer remember. Now, I can’t even remember what I felt. Only the fact remains.
I must have been happy to be confessed. I wanted to love someone again. I chose this path to regain that normalcy.
But I’m afraid I have no interest whatsoever in this tournament or the weak spirit that the enthusiastic upperclassmen and refreshing ikemen talk about.
I have no goals or objectives to achieve there.
I can’t find any sense in striving for the future like Koki and them.
Our motivations are clearly different. No matter how much the refreshing Ikemen stand out, basketball is a team sport. I can’t do anything by myself, and we don’t have enough time to practice. The upperclassmen probably don’t think we can beat the powerhouse schools that we seriously practice against every day. So what can we do?
“Kukuku. I’ve got a great idea.”
“As blank-faced as ever, so it doesn’t look like you’re laughing at all, you know?”
Manager Shiori, who tried to insert herself into the conversation, still can’t be said to have opened up as the manager of the boys’ basketball team. I have to pitch in here.

After school. Today’s club activities are extremely simple.
“If you can take the ball from me, we’ll call it. We’ll keep at it until you succeed. See, easy, right?”
It’s not just freshmen like Mihou and Ito, but also the enthusiastic upperclassmen.
By the way, our weak basketball club with few members is secretly practicing in a corner of the gym.
“That’s it?”
“Quiet, Mihou! Don’t say unnecessary things!”
While the enthusiastic upperclassmen and refreshing Ikemen are pumped up, not everyone is.
With such a low number, the difference in motivation isn’t ideal.
It can’t be helped. In order to get everyone fired up, I’m going to have to ask for a favor.
“If the ball is stolen from me, Shiori will do a full kitsune dance.”
“What are you talking about, Yuki!?”
The suddenly asked Manager Shiori has a stunned look on her face.
“Don’t worry. Have faith in me.”
“I-I guess… But that’s still strange! Why are you making random promises?”
“It will motivate you, right?”
At least the guys seemed to be pumped up.
As expected from Shiori. It’s no exaggeration to call it a manager effect.
“There’s no way I can dance without warning!”
“We have plenty of time now. I want to see it too. Come on, come on.”
While Shiori hurries to check her phone, I turn back to the boys.
“Forget this Interhigh nonsense. I’ll break your weak mind.”

“You, you’re an underclassman, right? Where is your respect!?”
Yuki whipped the male basketball club members into shape. The overwhelming difference in skills.
I love to see Yuki move like that on the court. Even back then. Even more than before.
I don’t want to miss a second of this moment, so I burn it into my eyes.
“So, even against bigger opponents, by floating your center of gravity, you can easily knock them down like this – get it?”
“One more time, Yukito!”
As Yuki easily rolls over Himura-senpai, the basketball captain, Kouki rushes in with force. Their fierce back and forth offense and defense continues in the blink of an eye. But the outcome is decided in an instant.
“Damn it!”
Kouki gets rolled just like the upperclassmen, adding to the mounting bodies.
As if to prove the difference in skill, only Yuki is left standing. It’s no secret and no coincidence. For I know. How stoic he is.
After five, ten minutes of such surreal scenes unfolding, the other clubs practicing in the gym gradually stop their activities to watch from a distance in awe.
“…So cool.”
The words slip out of my mouth. It’s really too late.
Even though I knew it would only cause him trouble, even though I had no right to, I still followed him and came this far.
This is a continuation of the dream. Extra time granted by a lucky coincidence.
Forced by an inner urge, my throat trembles.
“Everyone, do your best!”
It’s not that important for them to take the ball from Yuki here. I’m sure everyone understands that. This is a clear test they’ve been given.
A time to decide how to take these results and what to do in the future.
“Shiori, let’s cheer for the hopeless together.”
“Zako! Zako!”
“That’s not cheering, that’s heckling!”
“Come on, you too!”
“Zako! Zako! Zako!! I-Is it really okay to say…?”
“More mischievous!”
” Zako!♥ Zako!♥”
“Oh dear…”
“What’s wrong, Yuki?”
“Well, you’re too well-developed, being mischievous won’t work for you, I think.”
“That’s sexual harassment on a high level, isn’t it?”
His movements remain agile and gentle, even with the joking tone.

“Hah…hah… Not yet… Not over yet…Yukito!”
Although he is about to collapse, Kouki refuses to give up and steps up to challenge him again.
“Mihou, the gap between us isn’t that big. You’ve beaten me in simple physical skills. Try to relearn body manipulation.”
“Body… manipulation?”
Unable to abandon them, his kindness is something he can never fully hide.
“And this is how you take on the Interhigh? Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. Wait, what does ridiculous mean? Look it up.”
He’s dribbling effortlessly with one hand while fiddling with his smartphone with the other. A blatant provocation. Still, no one can take the ball away from Yuki.
Without a doubt, I can feel it.
“We’re definitely getting stronger.”
I mumbles absently to no one. Their frustration and regret etched on their collapsed faces.
Played for fools, talked down to as they please. Their pride must be in tatters.
Yet, in the midst of their utter exhaustion, a fiery spirit remains in those eyes.
“…I guess I still love Yuki after all.”
The dream I once stole. A sinful desire, though I knew it.
The longing I carried within me burned even more intensely.
And so he continued to change his surroundings through his actions, making them take him seriously.
But that’s why I can’t help but think about it. Something Yuki taught me a long time ago.
He dedicated himself to basketball to move on from his feelings for his childhood friend, Suzurikawa. Those feelings were so strong, even at the cost of those emotions. The strength he gained in exchange for his emotions. He was so filled with powerful emotions that it overwhelmed everyone and pushed him to greater heights. He couldn’t help but feel this reality.
“I don’t want to lose.”
I wiped the tears from my eyes and ran to him.
A full thirty minutes. Yuki held the ball the whole time.
Imagining myself becoming that strong, I hold the feeling in my chest.

Entering the fast food restaurant, I quickly spot the person I’m looking for and order.
“Yo, Mihou, you look lively.”
“Good to see you, Senpai. You look good.”
“Lately, I can’t finish the large fries by myself. I really feel my age. Here, you eat too.”
“There’s only a year between us, what do you mean?”
Seeing the familiar face, I naturally light up. Daigo senpai is one year older than me, and we were on the basketball team together in middle school.
I heard that he’s now a starter on a powerhouse team in high school.
“How have you been lately?”
A vague question. I wanted to talk to him like that again, about so many things.
“Every day I get my nose bent flat.”
“Really? Wow, there are some pretty impressive people out there.”
After what he did to me, my whole body is screaming with muscle pain. But the pain felt so delicious and irresistible. It was a desire that had been bubbling up inside of me, something I had long forgotten.
“I found him.”
Our common, unspoken understanding. There’s only one him for us.
“Him?…Oh, him. You finally found your beloved!?”
Daigo-senpai leans in. The frustrating yet tearful summer memories with the upperclassmen.
Our dreams shattered, our path blocked by a second-year boy.
Dear Sweetheart. I admit that’s a strange way to put it. Ever since we lost to him, we may have been in love with him. Had admiration for this character.
We vowed to defeat him and avenge our senpai, but we never got the chance.
“I heard he had an injury.”
“An injury, huh… Can’t be helped, then.”
Summer of our third year. Even the senpais who came to cheer us on must have felt disappointed.
We won a spot in the national competition, but amidst the elation, his existence remained in our hearts, smoldering endlessly. The lingering attachment from that summer.
We didn’t resent him. Quite the opposite. Every day was just fun.
Nationals was a goal, too, but more than anything, we were obsessed with having someone we wanted to beat, having a wall we wanted to overcome. For that, we practiced desperately with the senpais who graduated before we knew it, leaving us to lead.
It was fulfilling. It colored my youth. Putting it into words may sound trite and childish. But that’s what youth is, that naivety.
At that time all I felt was gratitude to him. That’s why I can’t forgive.
The unfair condemnation of his present circumstances.
“Oh, so you’re going to keep playing basketball? That will be fun. I see, so you ended up in the same school as him, huh? I should ask the coach to arrange a scrimmage.”
“My skills aren’t good enough to play with the upperclassmen like you yet.”
“Hmm, so you intend to get there eventually.”
“He doesn’t seem very interested in games himself, though. I’ll have to drag him there.”
“What’s he like, anyway? This guy?”
I tried to delve deeper into his character, but I couldn’t find the right words to describe him.
Although he rejects others with his words, his attitude, and his actions, he’s always surrounded by people. And I’m one of them, I realize.
When I think about why that is, it’s probably because no matter how much he pushes people away, there’s not a shred of emotional antipathy in his rejection.
Humans are sensitive creatures when it comes to subtle emotions. They’re not inclined to voluntarily approach someone they feel dislikes them. But he doesn’t dislike anyone. It’s as if he doesn’t have those kinds of feelings at all. That’s what draws us in. Makes us want to touch and connect.
Otherwise, wary types like Shakado wouldn’t have warmed up to him.
And once you make contact, you end up wanting to stay by his side.
His vessel must be massive. Endlessly capable of absorbing everything.
“It’s like he’s the opposite of everything, hard to leave alone, isn’t it?”
“Hmm, now you got me excited too. I’ll wait, Kouki.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t make you wait.”
“With that eager child’s face, you’ve changed a bit too.”
“Have I? I can’t tell myself.”
“You were more abrasive in middle school.”
“I’ve become more honest.”
“Hey now, male Tsunderes are lame, so stop it.”
Hey Yuki. I wonder what kind of face I’m making right now. You might not like it, but I want to chase that dream again. This time on the high school stage, together with you. We finally met. That’s worth sticking around for a while, isn’t it?
I imagine the next three years. There must be fun days waiting for us.
While we take a moment to relax, we chat about random things and keep Ogosato updated.

“This isn’t weird…is it?”
I check myself in a hand mirror and tie up my hair loosely. I can’t help but grin and purse my lips into a straight line.
“Don’t overdo it, Shiori Kamishiro!”
I scold myself and try to calm my pounding heart by taking my watch out of my pocket.
The glass is cracked and the paint on the bezel is chipped. The hands no longer move.
It has long since lost its function as a watch. My grandfather gave it to me when I was in middle school. It broke within three years.
I’m sorry I couldn’t take better care of it. I mumble in my heart and stroke it gently. I’ve kept it all this time. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.
Yuki protected me when I fell from the overpass. I wasn’t hurt, but the impact of hitting the ground must have broken him.
The hands are frozen at that moment. It recorded the moment when I stole everything from Yuki.
That’s why I always carry it with me. As a warning. So that I never forget what I did.
After the club activities, waiting for Yuki – that time made me so happy. So happy that it scared me. Scared of losing it again. Afraid of making another mistake.
I shouldn’t complain when he resents me. I shouldn’t protest when he hates me. To be shunned and judged after pushing him away, there’s nothing unfair about that.
Because of what I did to him.
But Yuki is so kind, kinder than anyone, and still gives me those happy moments. So I can’t forgive those who speak ill of him!
Many people don’t think much of Yuki. It’s especially noticeable after that incident. No overt violence or bullying, just a subtle atmosphere that’s multiplied.
What I can’t forgive are those who talk bad about him while claiming to care about me. I have to fight the urge to lash out.
“…Is it the nail that sticks out that gets hammered down? That’s ridiculously stupid. There’s no hammer that can hit Yuki. Anyone who tries would be the one to be smashed to pieces.
Fierce indignation. Dark, seething impulses rise in my chest. He saved me, Sazurikawa-san, Sato-san, Miyahara-kun, they all survived thanks to Yuki.
They’re all grateful to him. Yet bystanders speak ill of him without knowing anything.
It hurts me and makes me angry. Unforgivable. If there’s anything I can do, it’s to improve this situation somehow.
So that he never feels isolated, can enjoy school, and I can repay his kindness – that’s the only…
“Brings back memories, huh? It’s broken?”
I quickly turn around, startled by Yuki’s voice. I hesitate, reflexively wanting to hide it.
Because I love him, I want to make myself seem better. Because I love him, I’m afraid I’ll try to show off.. Because I love him, I want to look good. Because I love him, I don’t want to worry him. Because I love him, I try to cover it up, because I love him, I told lies.
Little lies that could snowball into irreparable circumstances.
Tht’s why, I decided that I would never lie to Yuki again!
The anxious feeling in my chest, the watch, I’ll tell Yuki everything. He’s always kind, listens attentively, no matter how absurd, gives answers when needed, hints when missing, thinks it through with me when I’m confused. So…
“This watch, it broke that day.”
To face him honestly, without hiding my true self. That’s the adult answer.

“I see. It would be difficult to repair, huh?”
“No. I’ll keep it like this. I can’t let myself forget.”
The watch Shiori was holding was familiar. I remember her wearing it all the time in middle school. But I hadn’t seen it since we reunited in high school. Didn’t realize it was broken. Sounds like it happened when she fell off the overpass. I was relieved she wasn’t hurt when I barely managed to catch her, but apparently I couldn’t protect the watch.
It was also an important gift from her grandfather. My apologies.
“I wish I could have done better…sorry.”
“No! Yuki did nothing wrong!”
The accident seems to have traumatized Shiori. No matter how much I say it doesn’t bother me, it’s not something she can easily accept.
But dwelling on it won’t let her move forward. Like the stopped clock, stagnating in this frozen moment. Shiori also deserves to enjoy her glorious high school years. Those fleeting three years she’ll never get back.
“Then I’ll buy you a new watch.”
“Wha- no, stop it Yuki! I can’t accept something that expensive!”
“Hold on. Money isn’t an issue. If anything, I’m struggling to find ways to use it. You see…”
A brilliant idea struck me. When I was in the hospital for my broken bone, Shiori’s parents came to apologize. Not only did they want to pay for my hospitalization, but they also wanted to give me a substantial amount of money as compensation. I politely refused to accept so much, but I guess they weren’t satisfied with that, so I ended up getting a small amount in addition to the hospital costs.
I didn’t know what to do with it, but if it was for their daughter, I’m sure Shiori’s parents would be happy. Most of all, if it can take away her worries and give her the push to move forward, there’s no better use for it. I explain eagerly, but Shiori refuses to be convinced.
“No, absolutely not! The money is for…”
“I decided to use it for you. You don’t get a say in how I use it.”
“That wouldn’t make me happy…”
I thought it was a great idea, but she doesn’t seem to accept it easily.
Seeing Shiori’s uneasy expression, I realize – a broken relationship can never go back to the way it was. She had to shed her innocence and change. I forced that on her.
Then the only thing I can do is try to lift her spirits a little.
“Then I’ll make one. Not a finished product, a watch just for you.”
“Make…? Yuki will…?”
“I’d like to make all the parts from scratch, but that would be time-consuming and difficult, so it’ll have to wait. No time like the present. I’ll do it, DIY style.”
“W-wait Yuki! I couldn’t–“
I push the reluctant Shiori’s back.
So she can smile again.

A watchmaker gets up early. Lies, I’m just a high school student! Gotcha.
The classroom is quiet in the early morning. For several days now, I’ve been coming thirty minutes early to work diligently.
The desk is littered with precision screwdrivers, tweezers, three-pointn openers, and other tools. I was surprised that the tool kit was relatively inexpensive. Good to have around for repairs and battery changes, too, so no loss.
“You look sleepy. You don’t have to stay with me, you know?”
“If Yuki come early, I can’t just play dumb and be late. Hey, so why did you decide to assemble it at school?”
“If I get caught working on it at home, what am I going to do?”
The sheer terror makes my hands shake. On top of the fact that my commute is already delayed, Nee-san already in a bad mood. If Nee-san finds out, this is guaranteed to happen. (For example)
“Huh? Why isn’t there one for me? Are you looking down on me?”
“…. I am not looking down on you.”
“Then why aren’t you?”
“Wait, what exactly are you saying…”
“I’ll get the honey.”
So scary… Lately I feel like she spends more time in my room than I do. I’d definitely get caught. No way I could play dumb.
Anyway, it took some time to get everything together since I decided to do it myself. Sorry for the wait. Please forgive me and my perfectionism.
I chose every part to suit Shiori’s taste, but not wanting to compromise, I specified them precisely and ordered them individually, which added to the cost.
Fortunately, budget isn’t an issue this time. Keep it between us, but close to six figures.
Shiori’s birthday is in July. Part of the dial uses ruby and sapphire chips, her birthstones. The unique part is the chronograph-like feature that shows the time of the accident, at her request. It doesn’t actually work as a chronograph, but the time is embedded like an inductor.
I also decided to transplant some parts from the broken watch.
Considering the original intention, I was worried that seeing it would make her feel gloomy, but Shiori stubbornly refused to budge.
Since this is my first attempt, it has no complex functions. It simply shows the time. But it’s still a special, unique wristwatch for her.
Getting the hour, minute and second hands parallel was tricky. This part took some time. I carefully blow away the dust and put the sapphire crystal case back on. Now only the strap left.
“It is moving! The hands are moving, Yuki!”
“It went better than I expected. Congratulations.”
Phew, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’d be at a total loss if it failed after all this. I take a deep breath and stretch my back. I’m tired from the intense concentration, but it’s a pleasant exhaustion.
When I turn to Shiori, she’s crying. What happened?
“What is it? Some part you don’t like?”
“No! I just… can never do anything back for Yuki after you’re so kind…”
“I don’t expect anything in return.”
Like a young girl, she sobs pitifully. I pat her ponytails.
She must have cried like that when I was injured.
“Thank you. I’ll treasure it forever.”
“Shiori, don’t misunderstand what you should cherish. You can’t replace or repair yourself. If you get hurt, you might have scars for life, maybe even disabilities. You are not an object.”
“I’m glad you didn’t get hurt.”
“Ugh… I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
In the classroom where only the two of us were present, Shiori cried like a young girl.
When I got hurt, she cried like that too.
But hopefully the tears she’s shedding now are different from those of that day.

“Don’t give up! Don’t give up, passionate senior! Is this good enough? You said you wanted to confess, right? You said you wanted to show your good side, didn’t you!? Were you lying!? Were your feelings that half-assed!?”
“Haah…Kokonoe, take it easy…”
“No excuses! You’re confessing, right? Why did you come here? Go figure! There’s no way she’d fall for you if she saw such a pathetic side! Is that okay!? She might get taken by another guy! Do you want to see Takamiya senpai in the arms of another guy?”
“Ryone~ Ryone~! eeeeee! Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! “
“That’s right, go all out from the beginning! The dead never tried their best!
“I love you Ryonooe~!”
The torture of the Basketball Club by yours truly, Kokonoe Yuki, continues today.
In basketball, endurance is of the utmost importance. Technique is important for winning, of course, but if you don’t have the endurance to keep moving at full speed for four ten-minute quarters plus a five-minute halftime, you don’t stand a chance.
To build that level of endurance, you have to start with basic endurance training like running. But my seniors were weaklings.
There is no way we can win like that.
But isn’t it strange for a freshman to drill his seniors? My inner Copernicus spins.
“Kouki seems fine. Ito looks about done in.”
“You think this much will make me scream?”
“All right, five rounds, you and me, go!”
“Hey, don’t fly off like it’s nothing, you bastard!”
“And stop smiling seriously, it’s creepy! Oi, you’re fast!”
Taking the initiative, run as fast as they can. The basketball club runs laps around the school building. It’s endurance training, but I’m the one who decides the team’s training. Unanimous vote. Don’t ask me why.
The team was weak to begin with, and the school didn’t invest much either, so Assistant Coach Ando, not a specialist himself, left it to me.
I’m in a position of power.

“That idiot Toshiro!”
Himura senpai’s crush, Takamiya Ryone senpai, cheers next to me with a bright red face. She seems to have come to watch.
“Hey Toshiro! Aren’t you ashamed of losing to a first year?”
Seeing this cute scene makes me smile. Unimaginable not long ago.
Somehow, it feels like everything’s starting to move in the right direction.
Which is why I have a past I want to clear up.
A lingering sting in my heart.
Yuki’s circumstances are hard. The price of protecting us with his sacrifice was too high.
That’s why I, we, can’t rely on him forever.
“I have to face it too…”

“Thank you for coming, Suzurikawa-san.”
“What is it? It’s about Yukito, right?”
The next day. I called Suzurikawa-san to an empty classroom.
It’s a very important conversation for me, but for Suzurikawa-san it’s out of the blue, and telling him will probably cause her trouble again. But I wanted to talk anyway.
This is the first time we’ve had a serious conversation, just the two of us.
We’re rivals… or rather, we probably don’t like each other very much.
But that doesn’t matter now. I hand her the box I was holding.
Inside was a beautiful amber brooch, my treasure that I had cherished and kept safe until now. But I never wore it. Even when I wanted to, my feelings wouldn’t let me.
I stroke my wristwatch gently. I was able to do this because Yuki pushed me.
“It’s pretty. But what’s it for?”
“Yuki gave it to me.”
“I see. What are you bragging about?”
“No! You see, this was originally supposed to be Suzurikawa-san’s!”
“What do you mean?”
Suzurikawa-san tilts her head in confusion. Of course she would be.
She doesn’t know what it is. But the real owner of that brooch was her. I just received it. Because I told Yuki that I wanted it.
So he gave it to me. But I’m not the real owner.
“This is what Yuki wanted to give you when he tried to confessed two years ago.”

“This is…”
The brooch that Shiori Kamishiro gave me. I can’t believe there was still a remnant.
I heard from Yukito’s mother, Ouka san – he threw everything away after the failed confession. Memories, mementos, everything related to me, all thrown away.
I remember sobbing when I heard that. Foolish me. I thought we could be together after I broke up with my senior. If I had gone after him then, no matter how hard I tried, this would never have happened. Our destiny would have been different. In the end, it was divine punishment.
I only got what I deserved for my stupidity. Before I knew it, it was too late to do anything about it.
Thinking back to that cursed day two years ago still angers me. What happened and what Hiori said to me.

–If it were me, I would never hurt or sadden Onii-chan.

That’s right; she’s pure and honest, so she won’t make the wrong choices like me.
With Hiori, he can find happiness. With Hiori, he can be happy.
They should become the ideal couple, blessed by everyone.
Hiori had been yearning for it. No, I had too. From our childhood, we knew that such a beautiful dream story, where childhood friends who love each other end up together, does exist.
Hiori and I had a big fight when she found out that I was dating a senpai.
Rumors spread that we were having sex, and she snapped while I desperately stammered out incoherent excuses. We didn’t speak for a week.
She told our parents, who asked if we were using protection.
It was miserable. I wanted to leave right then.
Mom and Dad know I like Yukito. He used to play with us a lot when we were little. Not so much lately, but Mom and Dad liked him too.
Like a family, I never doubted that we’d become a couple.
The big fight with Hiori went on until recently. After that, she began to lash out at me. When I heard her feelings for the first time, I was shocked.
Even though Yukito was her first love, Hiori still cheered me on, but I trampled on her feelings. I’m the older sister, so I have no right to complain or blame her for putting her own feelings first.
Still, Hiori tried to help me. I don’t deserve such a kind little sister.
“Kamishiro-san, I don’t have the right to accept this. If you received it, then it’s yours.”
Shiori Kamishiro. When she called me, I wondered what she wanted to discuss, but the contents were unexpected. The brooch she was holding – Yukito wanted to give it to me back then?
But I’m the one who refused it. I have no right to receive it.
“Are you sure about that, Suzurikawa-san? Yuki wanted to give it to you…”
“Yes. I rejected it once, I shouldn’t accept it now. And I’m sure he thought it would suit you better, so he gave it to you.”
“I see…maybe you’re right.”
“It is my fault that I did not receive it then. But I’m not going to make a mistake now. I won’t lie about my feelings. I’ll make Yukito look my way.”
That’s my resolution. For almost two years, I walked in an endless darkness. Walking through a hell with no exit in sight. But I kept walking because I had something I couldn’t give up.
It’s not for Hiori either. Because there were words I wanted to say to him again.
Kamishiro’s eyes widen. Maybe my feelings got through to her as well.
“Me too, I won’t lose either!”
“You’re my rival, huh?”
“Ahaha, it feels like there are too many rivals. Hey, Suzurikawa-san, will you be my friend?”
“You’re okay with that? I won’t give up on Yukito.”
“It’s not just about Yuki! I want to be friends with Suzurikawa-san!”
A bright, guileless smile, full of her natural charm.
She’s changed a lot since she first came here. That’s why I understand now – Yukito’s existence is very important to her.
“Alright. From now on, let’s fight openly and honorably as love rivals.”
As friends. If Yukito chooses her, will I be able to congratulate her gracefully?
I don’t think so. Nothing can take precedence over Yukito in my heart. That’s how I’ve been living, since that day. But it’s probably the same for Kamishiro.
Come to think of it, I’ve spurned the idea of friendship ever since.
I didn’t have the time to worry about such things. I shut out the world and didn’t look around.
Not a single day was fun for me. But maybe now I need to broaden my horizons a bit. So that I never lose sight of him again.
I take Kamishiro’s outstretched hand.
I see. For the first time since that day, I have a friend.


On this Sunday, the Sakurai group gathered at the station a little earlier than the appointed time.
The members are a mixed bunch, boys and girls from different social circles.
In Class B, the school hierarchy had crumbled quickly, leading to a lack of group consciousness. Of course, it was all because of that guy.
Many of them had relied on him during recent tests, and for example, in return for past exam papers, the otaku group’s members, like Akanuma, had become friends while working on a gift for his sister, a 1/8-scale figure of Yuuri-san (Archangel Ver. Six-Winged), an object of faith.
Everyone present is connected to him in one way or another.
Officially, it’s for tests celebration, but this gathering have another purpose.
[Cheer Up Kokonoe Yukito Meeting]. The organizers are Sakurai and Mihou, but the large turnout of classmates reflects Kokonoe Yukito’s popularity.
He himself seems completely unconcerned, but the truth is that Kokonoe Yukito’s current circumstances can’t be described as good at all. He must be hurting inside.
After Hinagi Suzurikawa revealed the truth, the Sakurai Group learned what he was trying to protect and why he did what he did. An extremely painful decision.
And we understood that it was because we had thoughtlessly relied on Kokonoe Yukito to solve the problem. Doing nothing ourselves, forcing the result on him, forcing him to bear the consequences alone. Without blaming or accusing anyone.
Kokonoe Yukito protected many, but didn’t save himself. He alone made the sacrifice.
We made him do it. Backed him into a corner. This fact filled us with unbearable regret. For those who shared that feeling, this opportunity was a godsend.
“Miki-chan, are my ponytails okay?”
“Yes, yes, cute, cute. I’m excited too.”
“What’s with this weird atmosphere…”
“Well, you know…”
Kouki and Takahashi exchange an ironic smile. Ito is here too. Suzurikawa and Kamishiro as well, so they’re quite a conspicuous bunch, but there’s a palpable tension in the air.
Anticipation paired with tension. Only natural, considering that the guest of honor, none other than Kokonoe Yukito himself, had surprisingly agreed to join us today. A monumental occasion.
“Is Kokonoe-chan really coming? I can’t believe it, and it hasn’t even sunk in yet. What’s Kokonoe-chan like in her everyday life?”
“Even if you ask what he’s like… I think Yuki is the same as always…”
“Same as usual, does that mean we’ll make it home alive today?”
“Is Kokonoe-kun some kind of natural disaster?”
The man who continues to disrupt their normal lives, Kokonoe Yukito, is now the most famous student in the school. In both good and bad ways
“I wonder what kind of fashion he’ll have.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he wears full camouflage.
“Or maybe super trendy and stylish?”
“Possibly. Can’t rule out a weird t-shirt though.”
“Yuuri-san is pretty and seems to have good taste…”
The expectant group continues to wait when Kouki’s smartphone suddenly rings.
“Huh? It’s Yukito. – What’s up?
The chatter suddenly stopped. Everyone was listening.
…Ha!? What are you saying… I see. So, yes. Are you sure it’s okay? Any injuries? Police!? Why were you… Seriously…? So what?”
“I’m just catching disturbing keywords here…”
“Kokonoe-chan, what did you do?”
Kouki ends the conversation with a solemn expression. For a moment, he thinks about how to break this. Finally, he decides to just say it openly.
“Sorry, but it looks like Yukito can’t make it.”
“Some kind of trouble?”
“He got hit by a female student who was riding a bike with headphones while holding smartphone with one hand. The police are apparently investigating the scene now.”
“Is Yuki okay?”
Kamishiro hurriedly rushes over, worried. To calm the worried group, Kouki informs them:
“Ah, he doesn’t seem to be seriously injured. The police told Yukito to file a damage report, but he’s discussing it with the woman as well.”
“I’m glad he’s unhurt…”
An uncomfortable atmosphere took over. The one who broke the silence was Minehda.
“Um, that’s true, right? No excuse because he doesn’t want to hang out with us or anything?”
It was a concern that lurked vaguely in everyone present as well.
Today’s meeting was something we had pushed for as well. Maybe it was an unnecessary interference. Did he see it as a burden? The fear grew.
Though an elaborate excuse, anything is possible when it comes to Kokonoe Yukito. In the absence of the main guest, they can only speculate.
“There’s no way he’d lie about something like that.”
“Yukito doesn’t lie.”
“You’re right, sorry!”
In the midst of Mineda’s apology, Kouki receives another message from Kokonoe Yukito.
“What now…? Yukito again. He says have fun everyone.”
“Have fun, he says…in this mood…”
“Does he get wrapped up in stuff like that every day off?”
“Not by choice. It’s like his constitution.”
“Makes me curious and yet afraid to know what his days were like…”
“I want to ask, but I’m too afraid.”
Gloom descends on the group.
“Can’t be helped! Kokonoe seems fine, so let’s change gears and enjoy ourselves! We came all this way!”
Disappointed that the star isn’t here, they made a decision together.
To never let him be isolated, to leave him alone.
Suzurikawa and Kamishiro felt a strong sense of duty, as if it was now their mission to protect him.
Little did they know that this directly contradicted Kokonoe Yukito’s own plans.
“Yes, we can get the details at the school. Let’s go then!”
“I’ve been looking forward to this…”
“Teehee…the mysterious ecology remains shrouded…teeheehee. Mysterious.”
“Huh, when did Shakado get here?”
With lively chatter, the group begins to walk. By the way, Minehda’s concerns are promptly allayed.
The bicycle accident of Kokonoe Yukito is reported in the evening and nightly news of that day, and makes it into the next day’s newspapers as well.
The following week, the school holds an assembly to raise awareness about the accident.

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