Oregairu Volume 14 Chapter 1 English
Chapter 1: Even so, Hikigaya Hachiman's daily life continues.
Drops of water ran down my cheeks, and caused a series of small ripples on the surface below. It
was an eerily, silent morning with only the echoing plopping sounds of water.
I slightly opened my drenched eyelids, and caught a blurry glimpse of the water surface glittering
from the sunlight shining through the window. Living in the filled wash basin was a familiar set of
melancholic and drowsy eyes. I removed the cork stopper, and the faint cloudy water slowly
disappeared together with the oscillating reflection of my human image.
I roughly rubbed my face dry with a towel, and let out a deep breath. The odor of menthol from
the facial cleanser drifted through the air of the room. I looked in the mirror ahead, was met with a
face that carried its usual listless feature. However, it looked rather refreshed, partly due to the cooling
sensation of the water. My expression looked far better than it did compared to last night. Perhaps, it
was just that simple whenever something had ended.
Yesterday, the contest that dragged on for almost a year in the Service Club finally ended with my
loss. My faint breaths that penetrated the towel at my mouth appeared tinged with a sense of relief
instead of resignation. Now, it was all over.
The only thing left for me to do was to grant the wish I was entrusted with, or rather, to fulfill my
final obligation in my contract.
Yukinoshita Yukino's wish was to grant Yuigahama Yui's wish, the very one thing that only I could
I patted my face with Nivea face lotion to prepare myself for what lie ahead and quickly rinsed my
hands. The season transitioned in accordance with the calendar, where it was natural for water to
become lukewarm, and for washing your face early in the morning to not feel like a hassle. My fingers,
however, were still cold to the touch. I wrapped them with my towel to warm them, and left the
The interior of my house, while not particularly extravagant in size, was in a serene slumber, with
not even the slightest of a sound to be heard. Only the distinct ticking sounds of the wall clock
populated the empty living room.
On any other day at this time, I would normally be glued to my bed. As for my parents, they were
either still asleep, or had already gone to work due to the upcoming end-of-term hysteria at their
companies. I wasn't quite sure, but one way or the other, it didn't pose much of a problem.
I made my way to the kitchen, and flipped on the electric kettle. As I waited for the water to boil,
I shook a bottle of instant coffee powder into a mug, shaking one, and then shaking twice. Suddenly, a
large thump came from the living room door that then creaked open.
“Whoa... scary...” I whispered, taking a deep breath to relax my nerves from the scare. I timidly
turned my head towards the door and then spotted our beloved cat, Kamakura, yawning and stretching
boldly. I wasn't sure when, but he somehow acquired the ability to open the door by pouncing and
hanging onto the knob. It scared the hell out of me whenever he did it late at night.
I turned back to my mug, only to see a heap of instant coffee powder inside, the scare from
earlier apparently affecting my hand.
“Can you enter more quietly next time...? If this was a job interview, you'd fail instantly.”
Kamakura, of course, paid no heed to my warning, and proceeded to clean his face with his paws.
I looked at him in disdain until I saw Komachi entering the room from behind him in her pajamas. Upon noticing, she rubbed her eyes and greeted me with a yawn.
“Oh, morning, onii-chan.”
“Yeah, morning,” I replied, nodding.
Komachi made her way to the refrigerator and took out a carton of milk. Meanwhile, I grabbed a
cup from the hanging cabinet, and silently offered it to her. She took the cup, thanking me in a
mumbled voice, and drowsily made her way to the kotatsu table. Kamakura followed suit while
pestering her for milk. Komachi toyed with him with her feet as he rubbed his head against her. She
then filled her cup with milk, and drank it in large gulps. After exhaling briefly, she appeared to have
woken up entirely. She opened her eyes, turned towards me, and did a double take.
“Wha!? You're up so early! Like, really early!”
“Wha... You're so slow... Like, really slow...”
something happening today?”
“No, nothing. I just woke up early, that's all...” I answered, dividing the excess mountain of coffee
powder from the first cup to the second. I then filled both cups with hot water from the kettle. A waft
of fragrance and the steam ascended from the cup while the inside was swirling with a bitter-looking
and undissolved substance. Both cups still looked somewhat too thick, but the addition of milk and
sugar would rectify that. I held both mugs and headed to the kotatsu.
Komachi shuffled into the kotatsu, lifted Kamakura onto her lap, and watched me in fixation with
her milk mustache.
She stared at me in examination, or perhaps, in admiration. Finding that uncomfortable, I reached
for a tissue box to pull out two to three sheets and offered them to her.
As she wiped the area around her mouth, I took the milk atop the kotatsu, and slowly poured it
into the mugs. After making two servings of café au laits, I pushed one cup to Komachi. She had a blank look, but then happily accepted my offer.
I accepted her gratitude, and gripped my own mug to warm my fingers. I made shallow breaths to
cool down the drink, and sipped. Similarly, Komachi gripped her mug with both hands and began blowing while sending furtive glances in my direction. When our eyes met, she nodded.
“...Okay, so you did get some sleep. Your eyes are so rotten, it's kinda hard to tell,” she joked,
commenting more than she needed to.
It wasn't very often that I would wake up early, so Komachi thought my health was a cause for
concern. Gosh, Komachi-chan, you're so nice... To show my gratitude for her thoughtful consideration, I gave her a deliberate smile of self-importance. I was a shy person, after all! I just couldn't get myself to
say thank you! I shy away from it, get it?
“Get outta here, I'll have you know I slept like a log. It might even be a new record-high in my
entire history of sleeping. Just feast your eyes on these crisp eyes of mine,” I said, opening my eyes
widely with a glint that looked like I was about to fire off a Starburst Stream3. Well, that's more of a
Kirito thing, if I had to say.
In contrast, Komachi looked at me dubiously with a squint. She then placed her hand on her chin
and went into thought. Soon after, she tilted her head inquisitively.
“...Crisp, as in?” she asked, sounding unconvinced. Seeing that, I, too, started to feel a little
unconvinced myself. My mouth deformed into a wave shape, and she smiled broadly. “Well, as long
you're healthy, that's all that matters.”
“Yeah, don't worry. I slept fine, although not for long.”
As it turned out, I did indeed get a good night's worth of sleep. I went out like a battery that lost
its charge, either because I was freed from all of the stress from my busy workload or the exhaustion
from being pulled around as of late. It was a sleep so deep that offered me no opportunity to dream.
That being said, it took a considerable amount of time to actually reach the point of falling
asleep. This was because I spent most of last night staring at my smartphone while tossing in bed after
getting home. I was undecided on contacting Yuigahama about the outcome of the recent events. I was
stuck in a loop of constantly typing test mails that were either too short, or too long, and constantly
erasing them, and then rewriting them. Ultimately, my eyelids grew heavy and I eventually fell
unconscious while thinking how it'd be rude to contact her so late, and that I should discuss the matter
with her in person.
I recalled the time on the clock before falling into my deep slumber, and a rough calculation
netted me about three hours of rest.
According to one theory, a person's sleep cycle was approximately ninety minutes long and was
comprised of two stages of sleep: REM sleep, which dealt with mental fatigue, and non-REM sleep,
which dealt with physical fatigue. To wake up feeling refreshed, it's recommended to wake up around
the time a REM cycle ends, or during the stage of light sleep.
If you're able to master this sleeping process and you managed to find a job, you're guaranteed to be a safe, secure, and inexpensive human resource and become a wonderful corporate slave. All you
need was an hour and a half of sleep every day, and you'd be able to work forever! Bleh... that would
Well, I'd more or less be dead in that future, but that future wasn't now. As a matter of fact, I was
brimming with more energy than normal. Komachi, who had been living together with me, seemed to
have taken notice.
“Uh-huh... I guess you do look refreshed somehow,” Komachi whispered, carrying her slightly
bitter café au lait to her mouth.
“I managed to finish up my work, after all.”
I placed my hand on my shoulder, and bobbed my head right and left, quietly cracking my neck in
satisfaction. Komachi inquired further with a tilt of her head.
“I talked to you about the prom, remember? Well, we'll be going forward with it.”
“Oh, right. I see, I see. That sounds super fun!” she exclaimed, smiling.
If the prom became an established yearly event, Komachi, who was officially set to attend Sobu
High School, would eventually be able to participate near graduation. Perhaps, she was looking forward
to it after hearing about it. The thought made me feel a little happy.
“It's a little too early to be talking about graduation, don't you think...? You've got the entrance
ceremony coming up soon, or wait, before that, you have your middle school graduation, right?” I asked in realization.
“Yep, that's next week,” Komachi succinctly answered.
“Seriously? That was quick. Wait, when is it? Where? Is there a reception for family?”
“Oh, no, no, no, you can't come, that's just weird, you know. No one's asking you to, you know.
You've got school, you know,” she repeated in rapid fashion, shaking her hands with a serious look. Her
gestures left me wordless and I could only muster a groan instead.
This should be obvious to anyone, but if no one asked you, then you shouldn't go. Consider the
following: suppose there's a class reunion, an alumni meeting, or even a simple outing with a group of
friends. If someone who wasn't specifically invited were to tag along like it was nobody's business, the
mood was guaranteed to be ruined. And then, after everyone called it a day, someone would ask both in
person, and on a social network, “Uh, so, I'm gonna ask everyone 'why did he come again?' Please
answer the question. Okay, Enraku-san, you're the first.” The conversation would start off in that
fashion and then undoubtedly segue into a tournament of who could throw out the best insults, marking
it as the final entertainment of the day.
Well, some criticism was to be expected when an outsider decided to barge in on a gathering of
friends. I mean, people who came along even though they weren't invited? Just the worst. You know,
sort of like that guy named Deadlines. Now, this guy had absolutely no idea to read between the lines.
He'd call you, “Hello, it's Deadlines... I am standing right behind you...” and when you turned around,
he'd actually be there. It had to be a psychological horror at that point. He was pretty much a ghost or a
demon, an existence of the occult... But wait, doesn't that mean Deadlines wasn't real?
Such thoughts swirled in my head, but based on my past experiences, deadlines and delivery days
did indeed exist. Deadlines do exist!4 What didn't exist was the possibility of attending Komachi's
I groaned and glanced over at Komachi. She was crossing her arms, and let out a discontent sigh. If
the wrinkle forming at her brow was anything to go by, this was clearly not the time to be obstinate and
run my mouth off, as in, “It's okay! Onii-chan's typically never invited to anything, so I'll be fine! Even if everyone gives me the death stare, I'll be fine! I'm totally used to that!”
“...Yeah, yeah, I got it. I won't go,” I said, after moaning. Komachi breathed out in relief and
closed her eyes, nodding to my resignation.
“As long as you understand... but to honest, I'll probably be bawling my eyes out, and it'll be
embarrassing if you saw me,” she uttered quickly, averting her eyes.
As her brother, I was all too familiar with her crying face, so it didn't give me much to think about,
but I suppose the same didn't apply to her considering her age. Wait, no. Of course, there was a lot for
me to think about. Like how super cute she'd be! I mean, she didn't have to cry, because she's always,
and I mean, always cute. Look at her, the way she's trying to change the subject with her fake coughs
was just cute. And the way she's smiling so sweetly to hide her embarrassment was cute, too. And lastly,the way she cutely opens her mouth was cute!
“So, I'm fine with celebrating my graduation in another way!”
“Right... there's more I'd like to do, though. We didn't get to do anything for your birthday,
either,” I said, wearing an apologetic smile. Recently, I had been so swamped with work that I had to
postpone a number of things, and her birthday celebration was my biggest regret in particular.
Komachi shook her head lightly. “It's okay, you don't need to push yourself. I'm fine with whenever
you have time. Everyone's still busy, right? Like, with the prom.”
Hearing that gave me pause, though she likely only mentioned it in passing.
“...Yeah, you're right. Yeah... Wait, I've got a ton of time, though. Sure, I've got things to do, but I
haven't planned any of those things out yet,” I spoke briskly, and shrugged my shoulders in jest, trying
to play off my hesitation. However, my desperate attempt to play dumb had no effect. As my little
sister for the past fifteen years, she knew all of my tendencies and personality inside-out. Even if I
didn't stutter, or if I didn't drone on with excuses, she'd still take notice of something.
“Hey...” she said with difficulty, looking skeptical. However, she stopped midway, and carried her
mug to her mouth. She drank her café au lait to moisten her lips, and appeared unsure of pursuing the
There wasn't a need for me to say anything, because I knew what she wanted to ask. I waited for
her to continue, and licked my cooling café au lait. I waited in silence, giving her my full attention with
my eyes. She looked back, and placed her cup down.
“Onii-chan, did something happen?” she carefully asked, giving me an examining look.
It wasn't that long ago that she had asked me something similar. It was strikingly close to the same
questioning words she gave me on the day shortly after my school trip that took place some time in the
late autumn or the early winter. She asked in a joking manner back then, but that wasn't the case this
time. Her hesitation likely stemmed from the sibling fight that broke out between us, a quarrel we had
not had for some time. However, she had no choice but to ask, and it wasn't out of interest or
enjoyment, but because she wanted to take that step for me, even if it meant another fight. Her
concern and kindness forced my mouth into relaxation.
“...Yeah, something did,” I muttered, the words rushing out of my mouth.
Komachi's mouth was agape, finding surprise in my response. She blinked two to three times, still
in shock, and said half-witted, “Something did, huh?”
“Yeah, a lot happened...” I said with a wry smile. My voice was unknowingly tender in tone, as if I
was feeling nostalgic for the home I couldn't return to. Accompanying my words was the realization that the good days were over.
“A lot happened, huh?”
“Yeah,” I answered, my voice surprisingly steadier than I had thought. I met Komachi's gaze
without the slightest of indecision and hesitation.
“I see,” she replied innocently, and went quiet. She continued to stare at me while in thought.
“Huh? What?” I asked, unable to handle her silence.
“Oh no, I just thought it was kind of gross how honest you were being, “ she promptly replied
without so much of a twitch of her eyebrows.
“Wow... you're the one that asked,” I weakly stated.
“I mean, I never thought you'd actually answer me,” she said, pouting.
“Oh, right... Well, yeah, you're right,” I said, convinced, and she nodded in agreement.
She was right. I could've easily just went off on a spiel about nothing. I could've also just taken up a passive-aggressive attitude and signaled to her to stop bringing up the subject. But this time, I chose
not to brush it off, and let my words spill out the moment I smiled. For that reason, she looked
suspicious, and even now, she appeared worried.
“...Can I ask what happened?” she carefully chose her words as she looked up at me. I made a thinking gesture and glanced over at the clock on the wall. She followed my gaze for only a moment before immediately looking back at me, and waited for my reply with sealed lips.
There was still plenty of time before I had to get to school, but if I were to kick off the conversation now, it would take too long. On top of that, it wasn't a conversation to be had so early in
the morning. And more importantly, there were things I needed to take care of. Given the situation,
talking to her now would be a halfhearted thing to do, and would only make it more difficult to explain
to her the core aspects of recent events. For now, there weren't many words that I could actually say, but there was something.
“Once everything's over, we can talk,” I said.
When the moment everything was over, I was sure I would talk to her about it all without any
falsehood. But that time wasn't now, but some time in the unknown future.
“...Okay, got it,” Komachi replied with a smile, after taking a few moments in consideration. That
she decided to not pursue any further was a kindness I knew all too well.
“...Sorry. So, it might not be possible to celebrate with everyone,” I added, feeling guilty from
taking advantage of her kindness. Just the other day, I made the request to celebrate Komachi's
birthday, but it's likely that wouldn't come to pass. At the very least, I wanted to let her know
beforehand. I felt it would've been insincere to keep it unsaid, knowing fully well this was just to satisfy
my own ego.
There wasn't much to understand from something so vague and non-committed. Her eyes,
however, still contained a resigned kindness as she looked at me.
“Oh, okay... well, if that happens, there isn't much we can do about it,” she answered, smiling.
Though cheerful in tone, there was a hint of loneliness to her voice, but that lasted for only a moment.
She let out an exasperated sigh, and then thrust her finger at me. She spun her finger as if trying
to catch a dragonfly, and thoughtfully stated, “Remember what I told you? I don't care if you become
the worst onii-chan ever.”
I flinched from her audacity, and she proceeded to poke my cheek with her finger.
“If anything, it's actually more convenient if it's just us, because then I'd get to surprise you with a
present of my own! I mean, imagine how embarrassing it would be if other people were watching!” she
rambled, feigning ignorance and fanned her face while trying to look flustered.
“Wha... what surprise is that? You already ruined it, but I'm still moved to tears...” I replied jokingly, playing along with her outburst.
“Right? It's so high in Komachi points!”
“Yeah... it's also high in Hachiman hurdles, though... I'm not sure if I'll be able to act surprised
As I stood looking anxious, Komachi's expression turned stern, and she then muttered in a joking
manner, “Well, okay, we'll just have to hold a depressing ceremony with only our relatives this time.”
“Why'd you put it like that? Is this some kind of private burial? That sounds like a funeral, doesn't
it...? I grumbled, and Komachi grinned in return.
“Anywho, let's have breakfast,” she stated. She rose from her seat and made her way to the kitchen while humming. Kamakura followed her out of the kotatsu, seemingly in time for his breakfast.
His claws would retract and extend from his overflowing appetite, and they would scrape the floor as he
walked. Hey, stop that, you'll scratch the floors.
I strained my ears to the scratching sounds as head of the house while looking at him as his owner, considering if it was time to trim his claws. Suddenly, the sound stopped. Upon looking, he was facing me and demanding my attention with his purring.
“Oh, onii-chan, can you take out the stick of tulles5?” Komachi asked, poking her head out from the kitchen after hearing him.
I pushed myself off the floor, and Kamakura hit his head against my leg as he purred. Since
Komachi was occupied, he decided to come to me instead. Gosh, what a clever child...
I glanced at the time, and it looked like I was going to have breakfast far earlier than I was used to. But it's not too often that I would get up this early in the morning. It's been a while, but today, I'll
spend some time with our beloved household cat.
X X X
It was early in the afternoon as I stared at my fingertips in class.
The sun rose high overhead through the sky, cloudless since the morning, along with the increasing temperature. The wind was blowing strongly today, carrying a humid warmth from the south. The
warmth was amplified even further by the running heater in the class, making the environment even
more comfortable than before. After arriving at school, the lack of sleep from the previous night caused
me to be repeatedly assaulted by an onset of sleepiness, making me put my head down on my desk.
I had just woken up from a gratifying nap, yet my fingertips were still strangely cold to the touch,
perhaps due the applied pressure from taking odd sleeping positions while using my arms as a pillow.
Today, and yesterday, were blessed with beautiful weather, but the next two days were likely to see a drop in temperature. As this change in winter continued to cycle, signs of spring inched closer and
On my way to school, the cherry blossom trees along the river had yet to show any signs of
blossoming, their leaves and branches looking bleak in appearance. However, given a month in time,
they'd be in full bloom, providing authenticity to the name of Hanamigawa6 River that they were
erected along. I let out an unassuming sigh, picturing my map of the future part two7,where Komachi,
too, would be taking that route to school at around that time.
Following my sigh, I looked at the clock through my watery eyes and noticed that class was
nearing its end. As this was the sixth period, the concentration of a majority of the students had been
cut in half, with me being the leading runner. As such, the room was permeated with a sense of relaxation, which worsened due to class subject of mathematics. As someone set on attending a private
liberal arts institution, a third year had no mathematics courses. On top of that, I had no plans on
utilizing them on my exams, so there wasn't much need for me to absorb it all.
I used my free time to look around the class, and everyone was similarly absorbed in their own activities to stave off the boredom: people dozing off, people fiddling with their smartphones at their
desk, or people just blankly staring out the window. On the other hand, with upcoming semester exams,
there were individuals who focused on studying and ignored class, almost as if they were working a side job.
Some were thoughtful enough to at least pretend they were engaged in class by stacking their
textbooks, which was enough to overlook them. But then, you had the bold ones, who would flap their
red check sheet and defiantly ask, “Um, am I doing something wrong? I'm clearly studying, see?” I won't say names, but Sagami Minami's definitely the type to do that. Though in her case, she came off as someone who was just trying to look like she was putting in the effort by studying rather than someone who had their eyes set on the future. Otherwise, her nonchalant blabbering while acting like a victim, as in, “Oh no! There's no colleges I can go to! I got a C on my last mock exam, I totally won't get in anywhere!” wouldn't obviously look like she was trying to fish some words of comfort from her friend, as in, “That's not true!” Nowadays, a C would get you in most schools. I just wanted to yell at her to go to the first school she chose. I wonder if her friend, Manami-chan, and she were like this at home... Sucks to be her little brother...
Oh my, speaking of which, Kawasomething-san, too, had a little brother, didn't she? A thought an aunt would have crossed my mind, and I looked over at the front of the class near the windows. I could see her blue-tinged dark ponytail with her back rounded, sewing something together. In her case, she was clearly working a side job... It was only around Kawasomething-san that it felt like we were back in the Showa period...
That being said, there were, of course, people who engaged in class seriously, which was the majority. One person, in particular, who was slightly behind me in a jersey was participating very earnestly in a very adorable manner. He was none other than my friend, Totsuka Saika... Maybe I'll say that one more time. My friend, Totsuka Saika...
Totsuka nodded his head as he looked at the blackboard. Just when I thought he was about to jot
down some notes with his mechanical pencil, he'd stop, and then proceeded to press it against his lips.
When he noticed me, he waved his pencil at me. With the rays of the sun beaming down on him through the window, his hair glimmered like strands of silk, his smile dazzling all the same. Gosh, what is that?
So cute. Was that his idea of lighting up the night sky with the secret moonlight8? That's too much Star
Twinkle for me... Still, the fact he saw me staring got me a little embarrassed, and I nodded back before turning back to the front of the class.
With class just about to end, I opened my neglected notebook and copied the written material on the blackboard enough to avoid getting scolded. At this rate, if I kept looking around, people would star
thinking I was weird. Not that they weren't already.
As I scrambled to get my notes down, the bell rang, signifying the end of class. Homeroom, too,
passed quickly with only a short message from the teacher.
There was only one thing I had planned for after school: talk to Yuigahama about yesterday and
the outcome of recent events, and ask her what her wish was.
I began readying myself to leave for the day while listening to the noise-filled classroom. That
being said, there wasn't much for me to pack. I ran my arms through the sleeves of my coat, loosely
wrapped my muffler around, and nothing more. As I pretended to think about what else was left to
pack, repeatedly opening my empty bag, I discretely looked at Yuigahama.
Most of my classmates left in pairs of twos and threes, but the usual suspects gathered near the
window corner that was exposed to the sun. Miura sat on her own desk, crossing her long and pretty
legs, and served as the core between Yuigahama and Ebina-san, who were in their coats, and were
sitting in chairs they pulled from nearby, and were chatting. Watching over them with a mature smile
and responding as needed was Hayama Hayato. And then, there were the three idiots, Tobe, Ooka, and
Yamato, who blew up the conversation further. It was a familiar scenery you'd see from this group every
They exuded a showy aura that always made it difficult for others to approach, even more so
because their conversations were heating up.
This, of course, made it difficult for me to talk to Yuigahama. I was met with a similar situation
before, and while I was able to successfully pull her away from the group, I was lambasted and told,
“Talk to me normally.” Which is pretty much the hardest thing to do...
As such, let's approach it from a different angle. If I utilized the wisdom of mankind, I could
resolve this problem without having to talk to her. If it's too hard to say, then you could just use a letter
instead. That's what Murasaki Shikibu-senpai9 said, anyway!
I took out my smartphone, and tapped the mail icon. The screen then displayed a incomplete
mail. There wasn't a subject or a body, but the recipient line was populated. I spent all of last night
trying to type some semblance of a message, but ultimately couldn't figure out what and never sent
anything. What remained was an unfinished draft.
I typed in the body, “Are you free today?” and tapped the send button. Shortly, Yuigahama
reached into her pocket for her phone. She made a gesture to the rest of the group, and dropped her
gaze to her hand. Then, she glanced over at me. I nodded back, and she let out a sigh.
“Oh, I'll be right back,” she said smiling, keeping quiet of what she was going to do. She excused
herself from the conversation by letting Miura and the others know. As she walked over, her face grew
discontent with every step. By the time she made it to my seat, her cheeks were fully swollen.
“Didn't I tell you to talk to me normally!?” she exclaimed with a remonstrative tone, keeping her
voice reserved to avoid any attention.
“...Uh, I chose the best way, though.”
“You don't find it weird sending a message when we're this close to each other!?”
“The good thing about mails is that distance doesn't matter.”
With the power of the internet, any shy person could run their mouth off no matter how offensive
they were being ! Even recently, you'd even see socialites and normal people ✰ go nuts on there...
Random thoughts ran through my mind, and Yuigahama's eyes narrowed as she looked down on me.
I coughed in response to get away from her cold gaze. So, this time, I asked her normally, “...Do you
have time today?”
“Today...?” Yuigahama repeated, freezing in place. She unconsciously extended her right hand to
rub her hair bun, looking a little troubled from my question. Seeing that, it looked like today wasn't
convenient for her.
“Umm...” She paused and made a momentarily glance in the direction of Miura's group. She then
wore a problematic smile. “I might not. I might be hanging out with Yumiko and the others.”
She said “might” twice. Weren't you just a little too unsure there? She just might go to Sea World
in Kamogawa after seeing the commercial at this rate... Still, Yuigahama likely didn't have anything
planned for the day. It was possible her conversation with Miura and the others involved stopping by
somewhere on the way home. I certainly didn't want to get in the way if that was the case.
For me, it didn't matter if it was today. What mattered was that as long I had the chance to talk to
her. Even if it wasn't today, I was determined to do so at some point. The calendar that displayed on my
smartphone was more or less empty. That being the case, it was only reasonable that I adjusted my
schedule to match hers.
“Well, it doesn't have to be today. We can talk tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or the day after
that day, and so forth.”
“That's too many to choose from! Just how much free time do you have, Hikki...?” Yuigahama said,
looking half-astonished and half-sad.
Of course, I wanted to correct her, because she undoubtedly made a small mistake.
“I don't have any, actually. I have a lot of things I have to do,” I said. Examples being: the stack of
recorded videos I needed to watch, or the stack of books I needed to go through, or the builders game I
needed to play because I unlocked an island at the very start but never touched, or the muscle training
I needed to do, which didn't last longer than three days, after buying some protein, or the soloscreening
party I needed to have for Aikatsu that was going to be broadcast on a streaming platform.
Needless to say, there were lots of things that needed to be done and my entire life wouldn't be enough
to get through them all. At that point, I'd rather just watch Aikatsu on repeat forever. Man, if only I had
five lives instead! Because then, I'd be able to watch Aikatsu five times in parallel. I wanted to spout
out the thoughts, but I lost the timing when Yuigahama made an impressed look.
“Ohh, like what?” she asked, tilting her head while looking at me with her large eyes. They were
filled with curiosity, and it looked like she was merely interested in what they were. Confronted with
her pure gaze, I kept my inner ramblings from earlier to myself.
“...W-Well, you know, a lot of stuff. There's a lot, you know? I have to get them done... but they
can be done at any time,” I mumbled, averting my gaze to cut the conversation short. Subsequently, I
coughed to gain back my composure, and returned my gaze back to Yuigahama. “So, I'll just work with
your schedule. Let me know whenever you have a day available.”
She folded her arms in thought while wearing a slightly anxious expression. But eventually, she
nodded with a smile. “Mm, okay, today's fine with me, then.”
“Really?” I asked, glancing over at Miura and the others, wondering if that would cause any
“Yep. It's not like we decided on anything, anyway,” she responded, smiling.
“Alright, sorry about that,” I said, bowing my head, and Yuigahama shook her head.
“Okay, I'll go grab my stuff,” she said, and trotted over to Miura and the others, likely to tell them
goodbye for the day.
I decided to step outside into the hallway since I'd feel a little bit awkward if I was seen leaving
the class with Yuigahama. The doors were closed, likely due to the heater, and I opened them, only to
close them again from behind.
The instant my fingers left the door, I was assaulted by a sudden chill. A coldness remained on my
fingertips like an irremovable splinter. In hopes of forgetting the sensation, I plunged my hands into my
pockets, and then leaned against the wall.
The windows were firmly closed shut, and the wafting heat leaking from every class made the
hallway far warmer than expected. However, my fingertips that were in contact with the door moments
ago were still cold to the touch.
X X X
A colorful range of sounds reverberated after school: the sound of clanking metal bats, the yells of
a called ball, and the timbre of the brass band. The farther they sounded, the clearer they became.
We made our way out from the school gate, just barely missing the peak of the traffic of students
heading home. Not very many of them crossed paths with us. The small street that led to the residential
area as well as the nearby park were empty, and only the rustling of leaves by the chilling wind before
evening could be seen. I pushed my bike along the empty street, taking smaller strides than I normally
did to match Yuigahama's pace.
“Sorry for taking up your time.”
“Oh, it's okay,” she replied, energetically, and shook her head. I nodded thankfully in return. My
attempt to speak with her earlier was rather unsightly, but I was able to setup some time to take settle
things once and for all.
Now, what should I talk about first? If I got started on the circumstances, that would take time.
Having a quiet place for this discussion would be best, because if there were people around, they'd be
distracting, and it'd be hard to actually talk about anything. So, taking those conditions into account, a place like Saizeriya or a cafe would be out of the question. Hmm...
Mulling over my thoughts, Yuigahama let out a gasp as if remembering something and said, “Oh
yeah, I heard from Yukinon yesterday. The prom's been green-lighted, right?”
Her sudden statement startled me, which almost caused me to stop in place. However, my legs
carried forward, and I spat out to bury the silence, “Y-Yeah... she told you, huh?”
“Yep, at night. She contacted me through LINE, we met up, and then we talked,” Yuigahama said
while maintaining her smile, her gaze slowly gliding downwards.
“I see...” I said, letting out an ironic smile. There was nothing strange about her already knowing
considering their relationship. Yuigahama herself was concerned about whether we'd be able to hold the
prom or not, so it was perfectly natural to expect her to get in touch regarding the outcome.
However, the promptness of Yukinoshita Yukino certainly did resemble how she used to be back
then. On one hand, she was quick and decisive. On the other, she'd rush to her own conclusion without
giving any thought to a person's circumstances, expectations, or considerations. And that was nostalgic.
Thinking back on it, I wasn't that much different. I was just indecisive as always. Every time, I had
to attach some kind of reason to get something done, as evident in my inability to send a simple mail. It
was only after a whole night that I was finally able to talk to her in person, putting me in our current
situation. But that allowed me to finally make my decision.
“Can we stop by over there?” I said, pointing to the park.
“...Sure,” Yuigahama replied, making a momentary frown. She then nodded.
If I didn't talk to her about our situation now, I was sure I'd end up postponing it to another day.
I purchased a cold can of coffee and a warm bottle of tea from the nearest vending machine, and
headed for the park. I parked my bike close to the bench under the street light and took a seat. I urged
Yuigahama to have a seat with a look, and Yuigahama squeezed the strap of her backpack. Her
expression appeared tense, but her cheeks loosened as soon as she briskly made her way over. But just
when I thought she was going to take a seat, she ended up setting down her backpack instead.
“Wow, I haven't been to a park for so long.” Yuigahama looked around the run-of-the-mill park as
if it was something she had never seen before. Her gaze then stopped at a single location. I looked over
to see she was gazing at the swings, playground equipment that you could find anywhere. There was
nothing special to them, but Yuigahama hurried over to them, anyway.
“Um, what? Hello?” I called out to stop her, but she was already fiddling with the chains. Her
action killed my enthusiasm, and I found myself going to her.
“Whoa, swings are so small. Were they always like this?” Yuigahama exclaimed, timidly taking a
seat on the swing. As soon as she accelerated forward with a kick, the chains rattled and began
colliding. “Oh my god, wow! It's been a while since I rode on these, but it's a lot more scary than I
She planted her feet onto the ground in a frantic, and let out a relieved breath. I used that
moment to hand her the bottle of tea.
“You don't really worry about that when you're a kid. I used to jump off the swing and get
scratches on my knees all the time.”
Yuigahama accepted the bottle with a word of thanks, and took a sip.
“Ohh, I did that too, I think... Then again, I didn't think you were the kind of guy to do that,
Hikki,” she said, wrapping her arms around the chains. She looked up at me, kicking the ground with her
feet, slowly rocking back and forth on the swing. She made a teasing look at the swing beside her,
urging me to take a seat. However, I didn't go along with her invitation. Instead, I took a seat at the
surrounding fence instead. I snapped open the can of coffee, and hydrated my mouth.
“Yuigahama,” I said, swallowing the bitter taste left on my tongue. “Tell me what your wish is.”
She took a moment, seemingly missing my intentions, and pursed her lips with a stumped smile.
“What's that supposed to mean?”
“Let me rephrase it. Is there anything you want me to do, or anything you want me to grant you?”
“Ehh?” she clapped her hands together, placed them between her inner thighs, and began thinking
as she swayed her body left and right. Then, she immediately came up with a thought. “There's a lot.
Like, I want you to act more natural when you talk to me, or I want you to stop peeking at me, or I want
you to answer your texts faster, or I want you to stop being so picky, oh, and, also—”
“Okay, okay, sorry for being born, alright? Then again, I'm really bad news, aren't I? I'm pretty
Yuigahama folded her fingers one by one as she listed out everything, and I stopped her in advance
before she could increase the list. Had she brought up any more, I would've gone into full depression. I
grew disgusted with myself, and Yuigahama tilted her head with a grave look.
“Took you this long to notice...?”
“It hurts a lot more when you hear those things from someone else. I mean, you listed out so
many, and they're all long, and they're all clearly criticizing me, and now it just hurts... Though believe
it or not, I do want to fix them.”
“I don't think you ever will, so just forget it...” she said in resignation, shrugging her shoulders.
Aww, she gave up on me... Everything you pointed out were things I was aware of, and I was going
to do my best to work on them... Then again, they were things that wouldn't change if I tackled them
gradually, so I was left with an ironic smile.
“Oh, also, I think it'd be nice if you could fix your habit of planning things so suddenly like today.
It's fine when I'm free, but I want to prepare myself, and everything.”
“Ah, right. Sorry.”
It's true that recently, I had been only been talking to her on short notice. It looked like she was
figuring out today's after school plans with Miura and the others, so I felt guilty and apologized. She
then nodded in acceptance.
“There's still more? You sure have a lot, huh? I'm really sorry for everything, okay?” I said.
Yuigahama laughed, and I followed suit.
I could only imagine how much easier it could've been if we were always able to talk like this;
always avoiding to say what's important, pretending everything's normal, and never touching on what
truly mattered. But allowing myself such luxuries would only betray what I believed in.
I gulped down the canned coffee in my hand, and squeezed it to trap the warmth in the tips of my
fingers. The aluminum can deformed inwards, and I rotated the metal around in my hand in hopes of
fixing them. However, that served to only give birth to more dents in other areas.
“...That's not what I was asking you,” I said, my voice sounding softer and gentler than I had
thought. I lifted my eyes and looked at Yuigahama.
“What is it, then?”
“It's about the contest from before. The one where you can make someone do whatever you want
if you win.”
“...But it's not over yet.”
Her tone sounded like she was sulking, sounding more innocent than usual, and that caused the
corners of my mouth to deform upwards. For someone who would always try to assume an air of
maturity, she looked rather childish this time. I couldn't help but find it amusing.
“Well, yeah... but I already accepted my loss. The contest is a done deal.”
“You're the only one who thinks that.”
The western sky, extending far beyond her, grew dark, and the very first star was quick to twinkle
through the changing ratios of the mixing colors of rose madder and ultramarine.
“No, it's my loss. It actually feels pretty good how badly I lost,” I said, gazing up at the sky. In
truth, I really did feel refreshed. The issue of whether the prom could be realized unexpectedly became
the subject of our final contest. Yukinoshita immediately discerned that my proposed prom was merely
a dummy to elevate hers, and decided to accept our match knowing fully well that was my plan. In
other words, I read her cards wrong; I didn't misread Yukinoshita Yukno's strategy and thought process,
but her determination.
I let out a big sigh, releasing the tension from my entire body, only for it disappear into thin air
without leaving so much of a trace of vapor.
As long a loser, not a winner, was determined, the contest was over.
“That's why, let me grant you your wish,” I finished stating, finally releasing the words that had
been lodged in my chest this entire time. Just trying to get these words out took some considerable
amount of time. And that wasn't limited to just this situation. The moment our contest began, I
continued to mull over, from the bottom of my heart, when I could finally be out with it, something I spent almost a whole year on.
Yuigahama planted her feet on the ground to stop her swing. She pursed her lips, waiting for the
sounds of the creaking chains to stop, and eventually whispered, “I'm pretty greedy, so I can't really
decide on one... Would that work? Can I have everything granted?”
She lifted her head, turning towards me, and she wore a playful smile. I shrugged in response.
“That's pretty standard... well, as long as it's something I can do, I'll try.”
“I think you should stop doing that,” she said firmly, while looking away. I choked on my words
upon seeing her sad profile.
“You're always like this, Hikki. You obviously can't do something, but then you say you'll try doing
what you can, and then you just end up doing it, anyway. And you're always pushing yourself,” she said,
kicking herself back into gradual motion. “That's why, I'm thinking of asking for something simple. I'm
not too sure what I want for a wish, but there are things I want to do.”
“Uh-huh, what could those be?” I followed her with my eyes as her swinging accelerated.
“First... I want to help Yukinon. I want to see the prom through to the end.”
“ I also want to celebrate with the... game club? And the chuuni, and also Yumiko, and Hina
“I also want to do a celebration for Komachi-chan, too.”
“And I also want to hang out somewhere.”
She would approach closer, and then go farther. Every time, her words would fly at me, and I
would respond in kind. The things Yuigahama wanted to do were nothing surprising. I could see why she
wanted to help with the prom. I also recalled her talking about holding a party before. As for Komachi's
celebration, I had nothing but gratitude. I wasn't particularly knowledgeable about going out for fun,
but if she was fine with me, then I would gladly accompany her.
The force of the swing slowly weakened, and her voice turned quiet.
“And also...” she whispered, but eventually stopped.
Coming from a nearby street past the hedges of the park were clamorous voices. Upon looking, a
group of boys and girls wearing our school uniform was passing by. A quick glance, and it didn't look like
they were anyone we were familiar with. Yuigahama stayed silent until they left. What remained was
the lonely sounds of the dying chains as the swing came to a complete halt.
I said nothing, simply looking at her, waiting for her next words. She seemed to have noticed, and
raised her face to me with a smile.
“And also, I guess... I want to grant your wish, Hikki,” she smiled as the the sunset glow bore down on her from behind. Within the darkness tinged with the color of ultramarine, the light weaved from the afterglow of the sky and the street lights beautifully illuminated her slender countenance.
I was unable to give her an acknowledging response. Because the reason I was here in the first place was to grant Yukinoshita Yukino's wish. Her wish was to grant Yuigahama's wish. But she said she wanted to grant mine. At this rate, we would be in a never-ending loop.
“My wish, huh? That's a tough one...” I responded meaninglessly, pondering over how to answer.
“Right? So, take some time to think about it while you're granting mine. And I'll think about it, too,” Yuigahama said, forcibly kicking the floor, and got up. She took a step away from the unsteadily,
shaking swing, and turned to me, blocking the sunset glow.
“...And I'll make sure to tell you. That's why, I want you to tell me what it is you want to do, Hikki.”
I squinted as the burning red of the setting sun penetrated my eyes. With my sight blurred by the light source ahead, I nodded. After she ascertained my response, I could make out her beautiful smile.