Chapter 2:

Hate Or Love

Master Of Rejections But Beginner At Love

The next day. The sky was cloudy and gray.Bookmark here

Kazuma, who had dark eye bags, was on his way to school.Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

He was still lost in thoughts after the piece of information he received yesterday night from Yui. Due to that, he was depressed and could not get any sleep.Bookmark here

“Why...”Bookmark here

As he muttered something, he remembered their conversation from yesterday.Bookmark here

“S-s-she has a f-fiance?!” he stuttered.Bookmark here

“D-don't tell me that you didn't know.” Yui said in shock.Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

Kazuma was speechless.Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

“Ehm, hello?” she asked to finally break the silence.Bookmark here

But Kazuma still did not talk. He just stood there like a tree.Bookmark here

Not having an idea, how to change the mood or topic, she became nervous and fidgety.Bookmark here

“Then goodbye, I guess?” she said, trying to escape this situation.Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

Still no response. But he slightly nodded and then went home.Bookmark here

“Ugh, what now?”Bookmark here

When Kazuma exited the house, Yui massaged her forehead with her fingers. She realized that she may have stepped on a huge landmine. She pondered about how she could cheer him up. But, it was pointless. She knew that an optimistic talk would be ineffective because in the end, it was just idealistic. He had to face reality.Bookmark here

“Whatever. I guess, I will help him see this through.” she decided while sighing.Bookmark here

Not wanting to see her friend in despair, she would try to help him get over his crush.Bookmark here

“Hmmm, maybe I should set up a mixer.” she mused in a soliloquy as she had one idea after another.Bookmark here

In the meantime, Kazuma arrived at his home.Bookmark here

He had lifeless eyes and a weak posture contrasting his usually more confident one. Not caring about his shoes or clothes, he went straight to bed with his back facing the ceiling and his face buried in his pillow.Bookmark here

“...a fiance, huh?” he murmured with a self-deprecating smirk.Bookmark here

“...damn it... damn it... damn it...” he repeated.Bookmark here

Pow.Bookmark here

“Damn it all!” he shouted after he stood up and threw his pillow against the wall.Bookmark here

“Just why... why is everything so unfair...?”Bookmark here

As he asked himself, his eyes became watery and tears flowed down his cheeks.Bookmark here

During his despair, a thought popped up in his mind.Bookmark here

“Why didn't she say that she had a fiance when I confessed to her? She had so many chances...”Bookmark here

Thinking about her fiance and what possible reasons she had for not telling him, he had feelings of anger, jealousy, annoyance, helplessness, betrayal, sadness and even hatred. He was a mess.Bookmark here

Having his heart utterly broken, he sat on the hard and cold ground as he leaned on the edge of his bed.Bookmark here

Until the birds chirped in the morning, he did not move an inch nor did he sleep.Bookmark here

Back in the present, Kazuma arrived at the school gates. With his eyes still being lifeless, he staggered as if he was drunk. Even though his whole demeanor showed that he wanted to be left alone, there was a person who still approached him.Bookmark here

“Are you alright, Ichinose-kun?” the person asked worried.Bookmark here

It was Tachibana Emma. The person he wanted to meet the least.Bookmark here

In this moment, he wanted to vent out his feelings, to shout at her, to blame her for everything and to hate her. But he could not.Bookmark here

When he saw her face, he knew that she was genuinely worried about him. Her caring attitude was one of many aspects he loved about her. Therefore, he was conflicted. Should he hate her or can he still love her? It was impossible to choose both so he made his decision.Bookmark here

Kazuma took a deep breath and corrected his posture. Now his eyes slowly returned to its usual look and he stood straight and confident again. He tried to show a slight smile.Bookmark here

“I'm fine, thanks.”Bookmark here

Yet it hurt saying it. He was not fine at all. As much as he tried to love her, there was still hatred lingering in him. He clenched his fists.Bookmark here

“Do you have a fiance?” he blurted out accidentally.Bookmark here

Thinking about what he said, his eyes were wide open out of shock and he covered his mouth with one hand in panic.Bookmark here

Emma was also shocked by this sudden question as her eyes were also wide open.Bookmark here

“E-ehm, yes, I do...” she said with a rather sad smile.Bookmark here

“I-I see...” he replied.Bookmark here

“You must surely hate me for not telling you sooner, don't you?”Bookmark here

“...” he looked away.Bookmark here

Kazuma could not or rather did not want to reply due to her words holding some truth in it. For now, it was difficult for him to either hate or love her.Bookmark here

“You may not believe me but I was not toying with your feelings! It's just a little bit complicated right now...” she said.Bookmark here

“I understand...”Bookmark here

No, he did not understand. Kazuma may have no rights nor the bravery to pry into her private affairs but he wanted to know the truth and the reason for his rejection after confessing earnestly. However, he could not ask in this moment when he saw her usually joyful smile was now a sad one.Bookmark here

There was a moment of silence between the two until a certain person arrived.Bookmark here

“Oh, if this ain't Emma!”Bookmark here

Kazuma turned around to see who the person was and he saw a blonde boy with slicked back hair and golden eyes with matching earrings. In contrast to himself, the boy wore his school uniform rather sluggish. His necktie was loose and his shirt was neither buttoned up at the top nor tucked into his pants. Overall, he had the impression of a delinquent.Bookmark here

Seeing a delinquent, Kazuma's eyes instinctively switched to being hateful.Bookmark here

“Wanna pick a fight?” the boy asked, feeling provoked.Bookmark here

“Please stop, Ken-kun!” Emma requested.Bookmark here

“You know him or what?”Bookmark here

“...” she did not answer.Bookmark here

“Ah, I see! He must be the loser who constantly confesses to you, right?” he deduced.Bookmark here

He laughed so hard, he had to hold his stomach with both of his arms. Whereas Emma and Kazuma did not change their previous expressions and remained serious.Bookmark here

“Ichinose Kazuma, right? I will give you one advice: Stay away from Emma from now on.” the boy said fiercely.Bookmark here

“Who are you?” Kazuma asked without an ounce of fear.Bookmark here

“He is-” before Emma could finish her sentence the boy interrupted her.Bookmark here

“I am Kirisaki Ken. Her fiance.” he said while grinning.Bookmark here

“!"Bookmark here

Kazuma was shocked and it was visible on his face. First of all, he did not expect that her fiance attended the same school and secondly, he could not comprehend why a guy who looked like a delinquent was her fiance.Bookmark here

“Ahaha, nice reaction! How about this? As compensation I will introduce you to some girls! Ain't I just wonderful?” Ken continued to laugh.Bookmark here

“Stop it...” Emma begged.Bookmark here

“Stop? It's fine, right? Look. He isn't crying and is just standing there doing nothing at all. Maybe he is deaf or something.”Bookmark here

“ calm...” Kazuma muttered.Bookmark here

“Did you say something?” Ken stopped laughing.Bookmark here

“Calm down...” Kazuma said as he held his right arm tightly.Bookmark here

“Hm?” Ken was irritated.Bookmark here

Kazuma was in agony. He had a bad past with delinquents, hence his mood would get changed abruptly when he saw them. Not wanting to show the other side of him to Emma, he clenched his right fist until blood came out. He had to remember the incidents that occurred in the past to calm down his thirst for fights. Then, his expression changed and it was now sorrowful and full of regret.Bookmark here

“The hell? What an oddball.” Ken commented.Bookmark here

“Hey! What are you three doing there? Classes already started!” a teacher approached them.Bookmark here

“Oh, we are sorry. We will immediately return to our classes.” Emma said with a serious expression.Bookmark here

While she talked with the teacher, Ken walked over to Kazuma.Bookmark here

“Meet me behind the gym after school. No running away, you hear me?” he whispered.Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

Kazuma did not respond and walked away.Bookmark here

Then, Kazuma held his hand on his mouth. Back then, he promised to himself that he would not seek fights anymore. Sadly, humans were weak if they strongly longed or lusted for something. It did not matter how strong-willed they were. If for example people who love sweets decided to not eat any sweets for one month, they could not withstand it anymore and eat sweets if they are shown some seductive good looking sweets in spite of their pledge to not eat them for one month.Bookmark here

When he saved Emma, it was to protect her. So he justified his actions as a good cause. But now he had the urge to beat Ken up. He hated Ken. He was jealous of him. He just wanted to beat him up right now. Kazuma had not experienced such a strong feeling for a long time already.Bookmark here

Maybe this marked his comeback to that world. No. He had to stay true to his words. He knew that his past was a mistake so he saw no reason to commit the same mistake again.Bookmark here

And yet he covered his mouth the whole time to hide his agitated grin.Bookmark here

Real Aire
N. D. Skordilis
Lee Jongki
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