Before the tutorial begins chapter 42 part 2

“Huh? I was completely outclassed as usual, wasn’t I?”

“No, the Kyou-san I know is much tougher than that. I’d say you were about two-thirds of your usual self today!”

Bullseye.

Is she a psychic or something?

“…You’re right. My spirit was a bit off. But the cause is clear, and I’ll have it fully recovered by the next battle, so don’t worry.”

“Hmm…” She scrutinizes me intently.

“What, are you trying to peek into my true feelings again from my expression?”

“You’re not exactly lying, but it seems like you’re hiding something.”

Damn, my physical constitution is a curse!

I’m definitely going to buy an item to hide my face next time!

“By the way, so…”

As the casual conversation subsided, and the chirping of birds gave way to the hooting of owls (yes, there are wild owls here), Haruka broached the topic in a more serious tone.

“How’s Jupiter doing?”

“Hm? Oh, she’s doing better than expected. She’s probably playing games with Al right now.”

“I see… that’s good.”

“Well, yeah.”

Something feels a bit off.

More like,

it doesn’t sound like Haruka.

If Haruka is worried about Jupiter, Haruka style would be to go check on her directly.

Relying on secondhand information from a third party after keeping a distance for a week doesn’t really suit her.

It’s possible to interpret it as “I was busy” or “it just happened that way,” but still.

“Hmm.”

I gaze intently at the profile of Haruka sitting next to me.

Even in the dimming twilight, her beautiful face that’s easy to spot stands out, looking a little uneasy. Wow, long eyelashes! Is she a model or something?

“Hey, what is it, Kyo? Staring at someone’s face like that – Haruka doesn’t think that’s very good, you know.”

“Wonderful boomerang, thank you very much. Since this is my usual response, please feel free to gaze at me to your heart’s content.”

Staring intensely, I try to vent all my pent-up frustration by observing Haruka’s beauty.

I see, the eyes don’t necessarily reflect what the mouth says, as the saying goes.

As I gaze at Haruka’s face, even someone with limited insight like me can somewhat sense what she’s thinking.

“You’re holding back because of Jupiter, aren’t you?”

Haruka’s head twitches slightly.

What a transparent reaction.

“No way, Haruka of all people wouldn’t be so sentimental…”

“‘Sentimental’ is quite an old-fashioned expression, you know.”

“Eh, really? My mom said it was super trendy with the young people these days.”

“Yeah, at that point, you should’ve realized it was already outdated.”

I think I’ve figured out the reason behind my sister’s unusually pompous way of speaking.

…But that’s not the point.

“No, Haruka is actually really good at being considerate.”

It’s easy to get carried away by her psychotic tendencies, but Haruka is actually quite skilled at communication.

She actively brings up topics, and is good at expanding on conversations.

Her timing of response, natural smiles, and ability to reduce personal space also show signs of a communication expert. In short, she’s an impressively capable person.

Or could that be the reason?

Because she’s considerate, she’s distancing herself – in other words, she’s holding back.

“That’s an overestimation. I’m not that capable of a woman.”

“Well, if you insist. But if you have any worries, let me know. I’ll be glad to help if I can.”

A direct approach, if I may say so myself.

But against Haruka, this is more effective than beating around the bush.

“…Okay, can I talk to you a little?”

“Of course.”

There, I caught her.

“Well, I’ve been overthinking it a bit, I think…”

“I see.”

Timidly, with a slightly strained voice, Haruka begins to speak.

I don’t dislike this shadowy version of her.

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“You know, we all went to Kyoichiro’s place a week ago.”

“Yeah.”

“And then, I realized something. That I’ve been really blessed.”

Blessed, huh.

Well, it’s true that she’s been blessed in various ways.

But…

“Isn’t that something you’ve been aware of all along?”

It’s because she was aware of it that she’s devoted everything since her childhood to the sword.

It’s precisely because she didn’t rest on her laurels due to her circumstances and talents that the current you exists, right?

“Yeah. I knew that. But I was just pretending to know, really.”

“What do you mean?”

“The pain and struggles I thought I was going through were actually much lighter and more spoiled compared to other people.”

Haruka didn’t go into the details, but I can somewhat understand the gist of what she’s trying to say.

Essentially, she’s feeling guilty towards us.

The lonely Jupiter, the amnesiac girl Al, and me and my sister who lost our parents in an accident a few years ago.

A person like her who has lived comfortably in a blessed environment is now involved with us, people who have led unfortunate lives – and she’s troubled about whether she has the right to be here.

What a delightful misunderstanding.

“That’s not right, Haruka.”

With a gentleness like telling someone the quiz answer is wrong, I overturn Haruka’s opinion.

“We’re not as unfortunate as you think, and your own pain was real.”

“But…”

“No ‘buts.’ Listen, there’s no hierarchy of misfortune.”

When person A gets a common cold and person B gets into a traffic accident,

which one is more unfortunate?

The answer to this problem is “Shut up, you trash.”

If someone shows up spouting, “Ah, this one’s more unfortunate because of the severity of the illness and medical expenses,” I will undoubtedly punch them.

Other people’s wounds and suffering are not something that should be arbitrarily judged by others.

“Haruka. The scars and pain you’ve felt so far are yours alone. There’s no need to compare them to others. It’s okay for you to be hurt.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, that’s right. In general, if we apply the ridiculous rule that says we shouldn’t lament because there are people less fortunate than us, then the only person left in the world who can lament their misfortune would be that one person. Telling the rest of us to just bear it because we’re more blessed compared to them is just unreasonable and impossible.”

People in distant impoverished countries are suffering from hunger, and since we’re more blessed than them, we shouldn’t ask anyone for help even though we’re also in poverty.

You’re being bullied, but someone in another class is being bullied even worse. So you have to endure it as long as that other person is enduring it.

You lost your beloved partner in an accident. But your neighbor lost their entire family in another accident. How can you complain about your own pain when theirs is so much worse?

“That kind of world is just wrong, you know.”

If you’re always just considering others and neglecting your own pain, you’ll end up in a sorry state.

Pain is a danger signal, after all.

I absolutely don’t want to become the kind of saint who can ignore the warning signals of their own heart just because there are others who are more unfortunate.

“You don’t have to be so self-deprecating or hesitant about your own situation. Please take better care of yourself, Haruka.”

“…Okay.”

The slender neck of Haruka trembles slightly.

Looks like one more push is needed.

“And if you ever feel suffocated at home, come to my place anytime. You can just say it’s a meeting to prepare for the next exploration, and your parents won’t stop you.”

“Is that okay?”

“Yeah, I’ve got plenty of extra room. I’m sure Jupiter would be happy if you came. Sis and probably Al too would welcome you.”

And raising his fierce-looking face towards the direction of the moon, he adds gruffly.

“And I’d be happy if you came too.”

A hooting owl echoes through the night.

What was that?

After I finished saying that, I realized, I said some pretty embarrassing things, didn’t I?

In fact, this sounds like I’m straight-up inviting her, doesn’t it?

“No, no, Haruka, it’s not like that. I mean, it’s not not like that, but I didn’t say that out of any ulterior motives.”

The fierce-looking face tries to convey that he’s not some kind of creepy guy through his gestures and body language.

Haruka just stares blankly at this foolish dance of his.

And his face is flushed unusually red.

His mind is clearly elsewhere.

“Haruka-san?”

“Ah, sorry, sorry! I just…the air felt a bit hot and I kinda spaced out there! But don’t worry, I understand your feelings! Sorry for asking such a weird thing!”

“I see.”

It is June after all,

even though it’s at night, staying out for too long could be dangerous.

“My bad. I should have been more considerate. I’m sorry for making you hold back until your face turned so red.”

“Huh? My face is red?”

“Yeah. You look like a boiled octopus. You might even be at risk of heat stroke…”

“W-w-w-what?! Are you saying we should k-k-k-kiss?!”

“Haruka-san?”

Why is she so surprised at that?

Heat stroke is a dangerous condition that anyone can get.

“Are you really okay?”

“I-I-I’m totally fine, Haruka-san! I don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong, so really, I’m okay!”

I hope that’s true, because this girl has a tendency to tough things out.

“Just to be safe, let’s buy some water from the store before heading back. And I’ll walk you home today.”

“! That’s so nice of you, but really, it’s not like that, I mean, I don’t know how to say it…”

Haruka suddenly starts frantically scratching her head.

She’s been acting quite restless lately.

“Oh, I know! Since we’re here, why don’t I stay over at your place tonight?”

“I see.”

That’s quite sudden.

“Is…is that okay?”

“No, not at all. But let me just send a message to my sister first.”

“Uh-huh.”

As soon as I sent a message to my sister saying Haruka would be staying over, the reply came back instantly: “Please do!”

“Okay, she says it’s fine. Shall we go then?”

“…Yay!”

Under the moonlight, the blue sun blossoms into the brightest smile of the day.

I’m glad.

You really do suit that smiling face better, Haruka.

“What’s wrong, Kyō-san?”

“I was just thinking the moon is beautiful.”

“? But it’s nighttime right now.”

“Oh, that’s right. Yeah, the moon is beautiful too.”

I didn’t mean anything by it.

The moonlight I looked up at in that moment was truly shining beautifully.


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