“G-good morning, Echizen. You also came?”
I was weirdly surprised when Echizen first showed up, but it really wasn’t that surprising. She is ranked first at Oumi High School. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t be out of the question for here to represent her high school here. Well, she doesn’t look to be that type of person though.
“Y-yeah… good morning…”
“Hmm? Yoshiki, you know Echizen-san?”
As I was looking at Echizen who was blushing a little bit, Kenji said that to me. Meanwhile, Mamiko also gave a reaction. She was sending an even more painful gaze than earlier. How far will I drop in Mamiko’s eye’s today?
“Ah, Echizen and I work—”
“Wait a minute!”
As I was going to explain the relationship between Echizen and me, she stopped me, and brought herself closer to me. Then, she brought her mouth to my ear and spoke to me in a soft voice.
“Don’t talk about work?”
“Eh, why? It’s not like it’s not allowed?”
“It’s fine. Just don’t talk about it.”
Seemingly desperate, Echizen moved away from me and gave Kenji an appropriate response like, “He’s just an acquaintance of sorts”. If Echizen doesn’t want me to say it then I guess I won’t but what is the reason for that? Well, thinking about it probably won’t get me anywhere.
“I see. Echizen and Yoshiki…”
Kenji spoke as if implying something. Still, it seems that he accepted it, as he and Echizen moved to an empty seat farther away from us and sat down. More importantly, how is Mamiko doing? Looking back at what happened little earlier, even if the things I said were lies, I was being glared at really hard…
When I looked back at the terrifying Mamiko, she was instead at peace. She wasn’t looking at me, nor was she looking at Kenji or Echizen, and neither was she looking at her smartphone. All she was doing was staring off into the distance. Mamiko acting like that was a little weird so I gave her a little bit of a nudge.
“Hey, is something wrong?”
“Eh, ah, nothing is wrong.”
Mamiko forces a smile. It was getting weirder. Even though she was in such a bad mood earlier that she wouldn’t even listen to me earlier… However, it felt strange to question her here so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll ask her when we’re leaving. Well, before that, I should apologize, I did make Mamiko mad after all.
After the event was over, we were sitting outside in the lobby instead of the waiting room from earlier. I was with Kenji and Echizen while Mamiko was currently in the restroom. Wada-sensei said that we were excused but since Kenji said that he wanted for the four of us to talk for a bit so we decided to rest here.
I didn’t have much to say, but maybe because of the feeling of release that I got after the event was over, I ended up taking Kenji’s proposal. To be honest, I wanted to be alone with Mamiko so that I could apologize to her, but…
“That was pretty nerve-wracking. Echizen was nervous as well, right?”
“Eh, I was. How about you… Setsu-kun?”
“Ah, I was also really really nervous. I don’t normally do this kind of thing after all.”
We ended up having a meaningless conversation like this. It’s been about 5 minutes since Mamiko went to the restroom, but she still hasn’t come back. Then, Kenji suddenly stood up.
“Sorry, I need to use the restroom.”
After saying that to Echizen who was sitting across from me, Kenji turned and spoke to me in a soft voice.
“About what we talked about, can you ask her about it for me?”
After I gave him an appropriate response, Kenji left for the restroom with a satisfied expression. It was just Echizen and me left. It was just like work. What is slightly different though is that Echizen has been fidgeting around for a little while now.
Her cheeks were also a little bit red and it felt like she couldn’t settle down. I was a little bit curious about that, but first, I should do what I was asked to do. I breathe in and raise my voice.
“Echizen… about Kenji, what do you think of him?”
Yes, this is what Kenji wanted me to ask. I think that he should ask himself if he’s really that curious, but since it’s his first time liking another person, I guess he wouldn’t be able to do that. Well, since I’m a good friend of his, I want to support Kenji in his love, so this is fine.
When I was asked to do this, I also asked about how Echizen normally was, which was quite amazing in itself. She could definitely be called a school idol. Famous to the point where there are no students that don’t know her and there is at least one person who confesses to her every week.
She was a type of manga-like existence that Kenji couldn’t help but fall in love with. I think it’s really cool that he’s so honest about it so I really want him to succeed. That’s why, I’m willing to do whatever it takes for Kenji’s love to blossom.
“I want to know your real feelings, so don’t mind mind what you say.”
“…Why are you asking about this?”
Her question has me in a bit of a tight spot. If I tell her I’m just curious, she might get suspicious. Is there something… some sort of excuse…
“Ah, the two of you seem to suit each other very well. It doesn’t seem like you’re dating Kenji, but I wanted to know what you really think of him.”
Well, I became a little bit of a nosy guy, but it should feel natural like this.
“Suit each other…? Kawachi and me?”
“Aah, like a handsome guy with a beautiful girl, that sort of thing.”
“…Fuun~, we aren’t really dating per say, but I don’t like him either.”
For some reason Echizen said that in a cold voice.
“I see I see. Then, what do you think of him?”
“I think he’s pretty energetic as a person…”
It seems like her feelings for Kenji don’t seem that high. Don’t mind, Kenji. There’s still a chance, so don’t give up.
“I see. Well, he’s pretty energetic I guess.”
“… What is it? What are you planning?”
“Eh!! Nono, I’m not doing anything like that. I’m just a little curious…”
I give her that excuse, but Echizen continues to look at me suspiciously. However, after a few seconds, as if she lost interest, she looked aways. Then, for some reason, her face turned red as she touched her own hair.
“T-then, can I ask you a question as well?”
“Yeah, what is it?”
“… What do you think… about me?”
She seemed to be unable to calm down, so I was wondering what kind of question it was, but it ended up being just that. It seems I was foolish for putting my guard up. If it’s such a simple question, then I can easily answer it.
“You are my coworker. We weren’t that close before, but recently, it’s been really fun being around you. This may be a little presumptuous , but I think of you as a friend.”
Yes, a friend. I don’t have very many friends that are girls, but Echizen is definitely included in that group. It might be only me that thinks this though…
Echizen said that quietly and then became silent. As expected, she doesn’t think of me as a friend. Then, Echizen stood while looking downwards.
“Sorry, I have something I have to do, so I’ll be leaving early.”
As she slowly walked out, I was able to catch a glimpse of her face.
It was in despair.
How should I put it… When I saw that, an unbearable feeling began to swirl around inside my chest.