It wasn’t until July that Kanaruzawa Sekai was once again able to go to school.
Originally, that would be good news.
Why? Because he would be able make preparations in the meantime.
“Didn’t Kanaruzawa say that she didn’t mind?”
Yuuki had confided Koiwai Kurumi.
“It is a fact that having her shoes hidden like this is a form of bullying. I can’t just leave it alone and do nothing.”
“Mmm… I guess so…”
Kurumi put a finger on her chin, “Since I’m also a class representative, I guess I can’t just overlook it. After hearing something like that, that is.”
“Will you help?”
“In finding the culprit?”
“Well, of course it would come to that. I don’t really want to think about it like that though.”
“Very well, I’ll help you. However, don’t expect too much, okay? I’m in bit of a difficult position, after all.”
“A difficult position?”
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
Kurumi’s prediction was correct.
It came in the form of being called out. He was called to the counseling room.
“There’s word saying that you and Kanaruzawa were at the park, unnecessarily damaging and scattering the flowers.”
Yuuki, surprised by the teacher’s statement, argued back.
It’s true that we did end up ruining a few flowers. However, most of what was used was mostly weeds consisting of white clovers. For the hydrangeas, only those that were withering a bit were chosen to be used. I wouldn’t dare call it vandalizing or damaging the flowers. We even properly cleaned up afterwards. The children and wives from around the neighborhood were also happ—
“The truth is, there were complaints.”
The counselor, despite facing up against Yuuki’s confrontational attitude, spoke out resolutely.
“I don’t care whether or not you truly vandalized the park, but you’ve also been suspended from school for violence right? No matter how you put it, the impression that you’ve given other people is bad. You should be more careful with how you act.”
“This time, it’ll end with a severe warning. From now on, be careful.
… Because that happened, things became a little difficult.
Adding onto that, Sekai was only bullied for that one time. There was no proof, and since she hadn’t come to school again, there was not another repeat. Without being able to prove it, none of the teachers would make a move.
(Truthfully, it wasn’t that important. Searching for the culprit, that is.)
Moreover, Kanaruzawa Sekai was someone who was happy for having her shoes hidden. Whether the bullying was to continue or not, there wouldn’t be much of an affect on her life.
(Still, she might get dragged into something bigger. If something could be done, then I have to do it.)
With that said, it was still a difficult problem. Putting in the effort, he spoke to his classmates, looked for any clues there might be, and tried following through with Sekai’s situation. However, all he got was fear, and disgust, responses that weren’t any good. Rather, in doing that, Yuuki had ended up putting everyone else weirdly on guard.
(I was someone that was hated this much…)
As expected, it was a little bit depressing. What’s impossible was impossible. If he were to push things even further, it’ll probably end up being even more troublesome of a situation.
“Sorry. It’s hard.” Kurumi apologized while putting both her hands together. “I also tried various things. Following up with the problem, searching for the culprit. I tried a bit of everything. But, it seems to be impossible.”
“Seems to be impossible?”
“Ummmm…” After chewing on her words for a bit, “Yuuki-kun, you don’t have any friends, right?”
“It’s just as you say.”
“You almost don’t interact with any other people from the class, right?”
“That’s why, you might not know, but Yuuki-kun, you stick out quite a lot. At this school.”
“No. I mean, I do understand that.”
“No, I really don’t think you truly understand.” She spoke in a way that made it seem hard, “I’m going to be your ally, and I would do everything I can to help you. That’s definitely true. But beyond that…. Yeah, I won’t be able to guarantee anything. Do you get it?”
“I understand that it is something that’s really hard for you to talk about.”
“For now, I’ll just be watching to see how things go. I’ll leave the rest alone, something like that. I’m in a bit of a bind if you know what I mean.”
… Yuuki was not stupid. Despite how roundabout Kurumi was being, he believed that he understood what she was trying to get across. Still, he knew that there was no other choice for but to push forward. If nothing else, Kanaruzawa Sekai, herself, would need that the most.
One day in July. Kanaruzawa Sekai came to school for the first time in a while.
“Yuuki. Will there be that again today?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“My shoes. Will they be taken by someone again?”
It was a sunny day before the approaching rainy season. Below the blue sky, blending in with the students going to school, Sekai’s voice was excited.
“I don’t think it was taken.” Yuuki replied indifferently, “I made moves, in order to make sure that the same thing won’t happen.”
“Fumu, I see. I feel a little bit sad about that, but… if that’s the case then it’s fine.”
Sekai was in a good mood Fuun fuun fuun, she was lightly humming, and even skipping energetically while moving. If you keep doing that, your condition will end up worsening again, was something Yuuki was not going to say.
In return, he said something else.
“I am your ally, okay?”
“I am also your ally.” Sekai immediately responded. “No matter what happens, I will always be your ally. Of course, I would probably just end up being taken care of by you, and won’t really be much help at all.”
It was a smile without any evil intent. Like a brand-new, clean white sheet. Yuuki was aware that it might seem like a depressing way to think. But he wanted to protect this smile. To ensure that it does not wither, no matter what happens.
When they entered the classroom, the mood instantly became stagnant. Their classmates who were originally boiling over with the morning commotion, quickly died down and stopped their conversations. Taking glances at the two newcomers, they would immediately divert their gazes. Tch, there was even the sound of someone clicking their tongue. The commotion soon returned.
Yuuki, who was standing still, began walking again, with Sekai following behind him. The two of them arrived at their own seats. Sekai made a relieved sigh, as if she had just finished a long journey.
While thinking that appearance was quite charming, Yuuki confirmed their surroundings and realized that Kurumi was not in the classroom. It was unusual but not something that never happens. She’s the class representative and has a lot of friends and would probably be busy with something.
There wasn’t going to be a morning greeting today—
“Why did she come?”
A voice came out from somewhere.
“Is there any meaning in coming? She’ll probably just end up in the infirmary again.”
“She doesn’t even take classes properly.”
“She probably doesn’t even have enough credits. It’s impossible for her to graduate.”
It wasn’t just one voice.
It wasn’t just one, and neither did it come from one direction. From all around the classroom, regardless of gender, regardless of group, everyone was whispering.
“Also, did you here? About that?”
“About the park and the flowers?”
“I heard about that. No way.”
“No, not at all. Rather, that seems creepy.”
“It really makes you think, what is it that she’s thinking about?”
“Doesn’t even come to school. No, it would be great if she didn’t come to school.”
… He thought he was prepared for it.
Even with all of Yuuki’s power, he couldn’t be the one that leads the way. He couldn’t take away the negative image that people had of the transfer student. Because of that, he was prepared that there would be this sort of backlash.
However, he never thought that it would come with this much at once.
He looked towards the other person, who was fully receiving all the negative emotions. Shown on her face was an expression of laughter, trouble, and awkwardness. As if she didn’t exactly know how to measure the situation. As expected, even Kanaruzawa Sekai couldn’t be happy in this situation where she was subject to so much negative intent.
(What should I do?)
It would be easy to stop it
It’s fine to glare at everyone. It would also be fine to forcefully leave. It’s even fine to ask for outside help. But is that really the right thing to do? That wasn’t really a simple solution, right? Rather, what would be a simple solution in the first place?
“Moreover, the hat and the wig. What’s with that?”
“Is she trying to be fashionable? There’s no way.”
“It’s so desperate that it’s funny. Does she really want to come to school that much? Isn’t there no meaning to that?”
“Isn’t she connected with the board, right?”
“Then it would be easy for her to graduate. It’d be so easy.”
“Getting a recommendation to college would also be easy.”
“Uwah, that’s amazing but it definitely seems possible.”
… A simple solution? Something like that doesn’t matter at all—Yuuki thought.
He wasn’t the type to have a short temper. Even the last time when he had resorted to violence, he only did it because he had to. He wasn’t one that liked hit and run tactics, and besides, he felt that he shouldn’t take a fight without making any preparations first.
(Are you an idiot? It became like this because you say stuff like that.)
He bit his lip. The best method. The best resolution. Because he had aimed for that, the current situation became like this. In reality, it was more than enough just to act—people who were important to Yuuki were being subject to unjust actions, that should already be enough.
“More importantly, about Kirishima. Isn’t he also bad?”
“Ah… that might be true…”
“Since she’s with Kirishima, then she’s also been pulled over to that side?”
“He seems kinda scary too.”
“He’s been suspended before too, right? For a fight or something.”
“Then, it can’t be helped. Birds of a feather flock together.”
He was already seething with anger. Ever since her shoes were hidden. He was livid to the point of no return.
“Do you think they’re dating? The two of them?”
“Then, do you think they’ve done it?”
“They probably already did it. They seem pretty loose after all. Have no idea what they’re thinking either.”
“Skipping school to go to a love hotel? Seems pretty possible.”
If he didn’t snap now, then when was he going to? An eye for an eye. A cheap fight for the terrible humiliation. Isn’t that just the perfect combination?
He took a quiet deep breath.
The switch inside him was flipped, and just as he was about to stand up and kick his chair back,
A rattling sound rang out within the classroom.
It wasn’t the sound of Yuuki standing up.
The line of sight of everyone one in the classroom was gathered at one point. They were all focused on the sight of Kanaruzawa Sekai, having kicked down her desk in a impactful way.
Yuuki was taken aback.
It wasn’t just him. Everyone that was there, had their mouths open in surprise, as if they had seen a lightning strike on a perfectly clear day.
“Listen, everyone.” Sekai slowly put her feet together as she commanded them. Her expression was calm and cold. Like a ruler overlooking their—no. Rather, it was like a god looking down from the heavens above. “It’s fine if you speak ill of me. I don’t even care if you hid my shoes. Those actions are all quite cute to be honest. I welcome it, so do it as much as you want. However—”
From her pocket she took out a cigar. No one said anything as she lit the tobacco with fire, they all just watched. No, their mouths wouldn’t open.
“I won’t forgive you for insulting my friends. Never.”
The tone of her voice was calm. At the same time, the tone was commanding. It was simple, with no room for misinterpretation. There was nothing anyone could do but listen. There was something within it that seemed to say that you couldn’t ignore it.
Gokkuri, Yuuki made a sound as he swallowed his saliva.
Everyone was overwhelmed. By the majesty of it all. Completely and thoroughly overwhelmed. It was of different dimensions. The difference between a child and an adult, was way too small to compare. The difference between a human and a bug, would be more comparable. Forcing you to prostrate yourself before her. That was how Kanaruzawa Sekai currently seemed.
The whole area had become quiet—understanding what has been said, they were all forced to swallow their own words.
“Can I ask something of you?”
“Y-yeah?” Liberated from the spell, Yuuki spoke out. “Of course. Say anything you want.”
“Thank you. Then, if you would please—” Saying that, Sekai grimaced and smiled.
There, Yuuki finally knew. The girl that he knew very well, had finally returned just then.
“Can you take me to the infirmary? I spoke too much and I’m not feeling too good now.”
There was no one else in the infirmary. The nurse was either out on break, or she had not come into work yet. Only the floating specks of dust and the morning sunlight greeted Yuuki and Sekai from within the room.
“Sorry, Yuuki.” Lying down on the bed, those were the first words that came out of her mouth. Diverting her gaze, Sekai apologized. “With this, your position in class probably got even worth. I have no excuses.”
“What…” Yuuki was amazed. He never expected their conversation to start off with that line. “What are you saying? My position didn’t get any worse. Rather, I don’t even care about that type of thing.”
He scratched his head.
She had lowered her head as if she was apologizing to someone she had hit with her car. That’s what it felt like.
“I should be the one thanking you instead. Or else, I really wouldn’t have any standing at all. You put your body at risk for my sake after all.”
“I just happened to get frustrated. And without any thought, I ended up saying whatever was on my mind. Probably, no one in the class holds any good thoughts about us.”
“There’s no way that’s the case. Rather, that’s not even important.” He shook his head, “By now it’s like, who cares about anyone in the class at this point. Really. It was surprising, or rather, I ended up seeing something great.”
“It was quite embarrassing. I have no absolutely no control over my emotions.”
“No no, I was saying—”
He stopped speaking for a moment. If this continued, the pointless argument wouldn’t end. He didn’t want to have a conversation like that.
“I” He waited for a bit, “I somehow ended up seeing … your spirit? Or something like that, I ended up seeing it I think. It was mesmerizing. Rather, it was touching. You’re the type that can do stuff when things need to be done.”
“Please stop it with that method of complementing. I did nothing to be complimented for.”
“I was happy. About the things that you said for my sake. It should be the opposite. I should be the one to be saying that kind of stuff for your sake. It makes me seem somewhat pitiful to the point of crying.”
“That’s not true. You have already done a lot of things for my sake. I was helped by you a lot.”
“Really? If that’s the case, then it’s fine I guess.”
“I guarantee it. You might be easily misunderstood, but you’re a good man. That’s why, when I heard other people badmouthing you I couldn’t stand it.”
“I see. Yeah.” While nodding, he suddenly became embarrassed. “More importantly, what’s with this situation? The two of us praising each other. Doesn’t this feel a a little weird?”
“It doesn’t feel bad at all. Things that should be praised being praised, that’s not a weird thing at a all.” Sekai spoke out stubbornly.
Yuuki accepted her assertion that she seemed so sure of. The two of them were already had that sort of relationship. “That’s true. The two of us have already gotten this close to each other. Since we’ve met, only a few months have passed. Isn’t that weird?”
“Yuuki, it’s thanks to you. Because you have cared for me, the me right now currently exists. Even though accompanying me is probably quite the troublesome task.”
“Well, yeah. If you ask whether or not it’s troublesome, then it is.”
“Of course, it is… Gusu.”
“Don’t cry… In relation to that troublesome nature though, I would like to ask you for one thing.”
“Something you would like to ask of me?”
“Yeah. We get along quite well with each other after all, listening to at least one of my requests should be fine.”
“There’s no need to formally request it of me.” Sekai made an exaggerated nod. From the bed, she looked at Yuuki with serious eyes, “Say anything you want. I’ve been in your care a lot after all. Listening to one of your requests should be a given.”
“Oooh. That’s quite generous of you.”
“Rather, I’ve been waiting for you to say this for a while now. You do a lot of things for me, but you never ask for anything in return. It’s to the point where I get a little worried about it.”
“No but, my request is a little unreasonable, and maybe even reckless? To be honest, I don’t even think I have the confidence to say it.”
“There’s no problem. If it is for you, I will do my utmost to fulfill it. Whether it’s money, or women, I’ll prepare anything. Even if it’s. a couple countries here and there, it’s most likely alright.”
“That’s a huge scale!?”
“That’s why, you should just say it. Don’t hold back.”
“I see. Then, I’ll take you up on the offer.” Yuuki smiled.
Then, he said this.
“Kanaruzawa Sekai-san. Please marry me.”
At the end of the rainy season. The start of summer.
The proposal that came out of his mouth so easily, stayed and reverberated within the hot and humid infirmary.
Only the sound of chirping birds, and the voices coming from physical education class filled up the silence, during which, Sekai had a dazed expression on her face.
“Yes. I’ll be in your care.”
“Oooh.” Yuuki was a little bit surprised. “I never thought that I would instantly get an okay. That’s pretty amazing.”
“…” Sekai was silent.
Yuuki tilted his head in confusion.
“No. Eh. Yeah?” Sekai also tilted her head,
“Yuuki. What did I say just now?”
“Yes, I’ll be in your care. That’s what you said.”
“Fumu, I see.” She was still trying to comprehend everything. Half dazed, she looked up at the ceiling, then diverted her gaze out the window, before finally looking at Yuuki again, “By the way, Yuuki.”
“What did you say earlier? What did you ask of me?”
“Kanaruzawa Sekai-san, please marry me. That’s what I said.”
“It’s fine if this is just my misunderstanding, but…”
“What you said, was essentially, a proposal?”
“Yeah. That’s correct.”
She once against became silent. She stared off with blurred eyes that seemed to be half asleep. She then turned red. It started from her cheeks, then spread to her ears.
“…No. No. Nonono. Wait. Wait a minute, Yuuki…”
“Ah. As expected, it’s a no?”
“No, that’s not it. That’s not it at all…!”
“You told me to ask anything, so I didn’t hold back and ended up saying what I wanted. Is that bad?”
“I did say that. That’s true. Still—”
She shook her head. Still lying down on the bed, she held her head in her arms. It was still the morning, but her face was red like the sunset.
“How should I say it? That’s right, isn’t this weird? Why did you propose here and now? I won’t be tricked. No matter how lacking in common sense I am, I at least know this much. You can’t fool me.”
“I’m not trying trick you. I am actually proposing to you. I, Kirishima Yuuki, just asked Kanaruzawa Sekai for her hand in marriage. Seriously.”
“… No. Nonono.”
“If you can’t believe it, then do we need to record it? Then, would we need to ask someone to be a witness?”
“Nonononono.” She shook her head with teary eyes. Her hair swaying back and forth, waving in the air, and her mouth making flustered expressions.
“It’s true that the way I proposed may have been bad, but I thought the mood wasn’t that bad. So I thought now would be the best time.”
“Good mood… No, well, it’s true it wasn’t a bad one. I also think that as well.”
“Also, I at least tried to give a bit of a warning. I thought I made a few statements in regards to that. Did it not get through? ”
“I see. It didn’t get through. Maybe it was too roundabout.” Yuuki made a wry smile.
Sekai’s eyes were wide open.
“More importantly…” Her desperation was increasing steadily. “Aren’t you still a high school student? Is that an age where you can actually marry?”
“No, well, I can’t. But after a few years, I can.”
“How about your parents? Your younger sister? Will they be able to accept it?”
“I would like them to accept it, but even if they don’t, it’s fine. It’s something that I have decided.”
“Moreover… Moreover, is it fine? With me? Really?”
“You are the one. Rather, you’re the only one. I haven’t lived much longer than ten years, but I know. Only a little bit of time has passed since we’ve first met, but I know. For me, you are the one. I want to live my life with you.”
She once again became silent.
She was half crying.
“I won’t ask you to give your answer right now.” As kindly as possible, Yuuki spoke to her. “I would like you to think about it a little bit. Me and you. Maybe living with each other before we actually marry. No, rather, it would start with a normal boyfriend girlfriend relationship? Well, anyways, I ended up liking you. Completely falling in love with you. Please, I’ll be in your care, or something like that. Yeah.”
Sekai was frozen solid as usual. She was holding her mouth with both her hands, tears pouring out from her eyes.
“Ah… umm…” She became more and more panicked.
In a hurry, he tried to calm her down, “Sorry. Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry. No, really. So—”
“I—” Sekai said.
“I?” Yuuki responded.
She shouted back with a louder voice, “I remembered that there was something important I had to do!”
Gabah! She pushed aside the blanket. She then left the warm bed out of her own accord.
“I remembered I had something important to do, so I’ll leave now! I’m going to go home for the day!”
“Eh. Is everything alright? How are you feeling? Weren’t you feeling bad earlier?”
“All of that just went away!” With unsteady footsteps, Sekai opened the door, and left the infirmary without looking back, “I can go home alone, so you can just stay! I’ll call Chiyo so everything will be alright!”
“Ah. Yeah. If it’s like that, then it’s okay.”
“Well then, farewell! Let’s meet again!”
It was probably the first time that he had seen such agile movement from her. Kanaruzawa Sekai ended up disappearing from Yuuki’s sight.
Specks of dust floating in the morning sunlight. The sound of chirping birds. The voices coming from physical education class. Yuuki, standing there completely lost. Those were the only things left inside the infirmary.
“—Agh!?” Yuuki held his head. “I ended up doing it!? I really did end up doing it!?”
His body writhed in anguish. He expressed all of his suffering through his body.
“No, calm down. Calm down, me.” He unusually opened his mouth to talk to himself. Looking down at the palms of his hands, he spoke two no one in particular. “It’s not exactly all bad. That’s right? I ended up expressing my true feelings in an honest and straightforward manner. It’s no problem. No problem at all.”
Is that really true?
For a man, this wouldn’t this mean that he had perfectly succeeded in his once in a lifetime, biggest project ever? More importantly, what was the other person’s feelings? Did he perhaps cause her some trouble? Should he have taken a few more steps beforehand? In reality, the other person had become nervous and took the chance to run away after all.
“No! I can’t make any defense! I can’t defend myself at all!”
He stomped on the ground. He waved both his hands like an overreacting foreign movie actor.
“Rather, this has become quite embarrassing! Did I really say something like that!? I’m amazed that I could even say it! I won’t ever say it again!”
However, it couldn’t be helped. His feelings had ended up becoming quite strong.
The weak Sekai.
The dignified Sekai.
The beautiful Sekai.
The crying Sekai.
The troublesome Sekai.
Continuing to look at her, supporting her for this short time, their friendship gathering and piling up as his love for her sprouted—then, as natural as water flowing from a cup, his will solidified. All in this short amount of time.
If he didn’t say it then, then when would he have said it? He really didn’t want to entrust her to anyone, that’s what he strongly believed. To see her with someone else, that was something that he would rather die than see.
“What’s wrong with me…?” He was alone, with his face turning red.
He didn’t end up getting a yes. That was the result of the current situation. He needed to properly make his plans. In order for her to accept it—no, for her to be happy more than anything else.