Chapter 26:

Past: Regretful Decision

Master Of Rejections But Beginner At Love

As the sky began to turn cloudy and gray, the first raindrops started to fall.Bookmark here

"Haaa... haaa..."Bookmark here

Kazuma, who was out of breath, continued to run.Bookmark here

After he received the message from his mother, he began to sprint to his home without hesitation.Bookmark here

Despite the bad weather and the fact that he could not hang out with Shinya, Hirata and Shiho, he thought that today would be a great day. Spending time with his parents was always his dearest wish but the problem was that they had rarely time to put their work aside. Therefore, Kazuma was beaming with happiness as while he was running in the rain which got progressively stronger.Bookmark here

"I'm home!" he shouted with excitement as he opened the front door of his home.Bookmark here

"Welcome back, my dear." a lovely and elegant voice greeted him.Bookmark here

The person standing before him was his mother. She had black hair, which was tied in a ponytail, and cyan blue eyes.Bookmark here

"Do you want to sit in the living room? Your father is awaiting you." she said.Bookmark here

"S-sure." he stuttered.Bookmark here

His happy smile vanished. Instead, he became nervous.Bookmark here

He knew from the beginning that something was amiss. Usually, his mother would greet him with a kind and welcoming smile. But this time, her smile was not reaching her eyes.Bookmark here

Both mother and child went to the living room.Bookmark here

"Oh, welcome back, Kazuma!" this time a deep and husky voice welcomed Kazuma.Bookmark here

It was his father who just went out of the kitchen. He had short black hair and a stubbly beard. Furthermore, he had slight dark circles under his brown eyes. In his hand, he held a newspaper article.Bookmark here

And just like his mother, his smile also did not reach his eyes.Bookmark here

"Uhm, Kazuma? Do you have a moment? We want to talk about you about something." his father announced and signalized with his eyes to the eating table.Bookmark here

Kazuma only nodded his head nervously in response.Bookmark here

Tick. Tick. Tick.Bookmark here

Sitting opposed his parents, Kazuma got fidgety from nervousness. The whole room was silent and only the clock could be heard.Bookmark here

"Uhm, so what did you want to talk about?" Kazuma asked nervously.Bookmark here

His father put the newspaper article on the table and pointed at a certain picture.Bookmark here

"That's you, right?" he asked.Bookmark here

"Hm?"Bookmark here

Kazuma took a closer look at the article and photo.Bookmark here

Then, his eye widened in shock.Bookmark here

[Another day, another brawl. 'The Owls' are more dangerous than expected?]Bookmark here

The headline of the article was not the thing which shocked him to the core. It was the picture attached to the article.Bookmark here

It showed the scene of multiple delinquents escaping from the police after another fight with a gang. However, in the background Kazuma was visible as he looked back to the police.Bookmark here

Kazuma did not know what to say as he held the newspaper.Bookmark here

"Your mother and I initially thought that you only played some small pranks with your friends but we didn't expect that you were truly a member of an infamous gang." his father said, looking sternly at his son.Bookmark here

"I-I'm sorry..." Kazuma could only apologize as he looked downwards.Bookmark here

"Dear, we know that we have neglected you for far too long and it really hurts us to do so... So before you get involved in their affairs even deeper, please, cut your connections to them. We promise you that we'll come home more often!" his mom embraced his hands in hers while she looked at him firmly.Bookmark here

Normally Kazuma would be more than happy to her those words, however, he was conflicted.Bookmark here

"Promise? So you do have realized that how lonely I was all the time. But you've realized it too late." Kazuma said as he slowly freed his hands from his mother's.Bookmark here

"K-Kazuma?"Bookmark here

His parents were slightly surprised.Bookmark here

"Of course, I'm happy that you want to come home more often. But why are you saying it now? This seems to convenient... Not for me but for you." Kazuma continued.Bookmark here

His eyes became sharper.Bookmark here

"What do you mean?" his father asked.Bookmark here

"After all these years, you want to try to put your work aside for me? And coincidentally, you suggest it when you've found out that I'm a member of a gang? Could it be that you want to bribe me into leaving my friends behind? I may love you two but I love my close friends just as much."Bookmark here

"But-" his mother tried to argue.Bookmark here

"And even if I want to leave, it wouldn't be easy." he added as he stood up.Bookmark here

"Please understand that we just want to protect you, Kazuma. We are from the police! We can help you!" his mother suggested hectically.Bookmark here

Kazuma ignored her and prepared to leave the room.Bookmark here

"Wait!" his father raised his voice.Bookmark here

"Sorry, I think you got it all wrong. You think that I'm just some random member who gets threatened if I want to leave. But that's not the case. I'm responsible."Bookmark here

"Responsible?" his mother asked confused.Bookmark here

"My friends aren't dangerous nor are they vulgar. That's because I'm responsible for them. I am their leader."Bookmark here

Slam.Bookmark here

Slamming the door, he left his shaken parents behind and went outside.Bookmark here

It was raining heavily outside but Kazuma did not care as he ran aimlessly.Bookmark here

He ran and ran until he finally stopped.Bookmark here

Now, he was at the playground where he met Shinya for the first time.Bookmark here

Due to the rain, it was deserted.Bookmark here

Creak.Bookmark here

Kazuma sat down at a swing.Bookmark here

He needed to calm down after the talk with his parents.Bookmark here

"What the hell am I doing?" he mumbled.Bookmark here

Kazuma knew that his logic was flawed. There was no way that his parents would try to bribe him. They were genuinely worried about his well-being.Bookmark here

However, it was impossible for him to leave his friends, especially Shinya, Shiho and Hirata. They were his second family and he loved them.Bookmark here

He could not make a decision. It was also out of question to try to find an alternative solution like trying to stay as the leader of 'The Owls' and also spending time with his parents.Bookmark here

Besides from the fact that they were police officers, his parents would never allow it. They would not stop worrying about him. Furthermore, no parent would be happy to hear that their child was a delinquent.Bookmark here

"What should I do..."Bookmark here

Kazuma moved from his spot and began to walk around in his neighborhood.Bookmark here

"Hm?"Bookmark here

As he walked, Kazuma saw a bunch of delinquents hiding from the rain under an old candy shop.Bookmark here

At first, they looked threatening and intimidating but they changed their attitude as soon as they saw Kazuma.Bookmark here

Their faces turned nervous and scared as they slightly bowed their heads.Bookmark here

"Yo-"Bookmark here

"We're sorry!"Bookmark here

They apologized for no reason and ran away.Bookmark here

"..."Bookmark here

Kazuma was confused for a second and also took shelter under the shop.Bookmark here

"Who were they?"Bookmark here

"Oh, well, whatever."Bookmark here

He talked to himself.Bookmark here

"!"Bookmark here

Then, he suddenly flinched.Bookmark here

"Haha... Hahahaha!" he laughed like a maniac.Bookmark here

"How could I forget?" he stated after he calmed down a bit.Bookmark here

Kazuma took out his phone and sent a message.Bookmark here

[Guys, let's meet up at the usual place now. Emergency.]Bookmark here

After that, he went back to the playground.Bookmark here

30 minutes passed until three people with umbrellas arrived.Bookmark here

"What happened?" Shiho asked.Bookmark here

"Yeah, it's gotta be a good reason!" Hirata, who had bruises in his face, stated.Bookmark here

Shinya, who did not say a word, was also injured like Hirata.Bookmark here

Even though Kazuma would like to ask the two what happened to them, he did not.Bookmark here

"I quit." Kazuma said with a melancholic smile.Bookmark here

Everyone's jaw dropped in shock.Bookmark here

"What did you say?!" Hirata asked aggressively and grabbed Kazuma's collar.Bookmark here

"H-Hirata, calm down!" Shiho tried to meddle.Bookmark here

Realizing what he was doing, he immediately let go.Bookmark here

"S-sorry..."Bookmark here

"No problem."Bookmark here

"Now let me explain..."Bookmark here

Kazuma began to retell his conversation with his parents.Bookmark here

"... And that's why I decided to quit." Kazuma finished.Bookmark here

"I see... Well, I'm happy for you, Kazu-kun!" Shiho said with a forced smile to hide her sadness.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I agree with her b-but still... You are our leader, Kazuma!"Bookmark here

Hirata was shaken by the news.Bookmark here

"Hirata, do you still remember why I planned to start our own gang?"Bookmark here

"..." Hirata looked confused at Kazuma's face.Bookmark here

"Ultimately, it was to fend off any hostile delinquents, who try to disturb us while we hang out. And to achieve that, we needed to earn respect." Kazuma explained.Bookmark here

"And now we succeeded..." Shiho finished with a thoughtful expression.Bookmark here

"Yes." Kazuma confirmed.Bookmark here

Splash.Bookmark here

Hirata fell on his knees.Bookmark here

"B-but-"Bookmark here

"Enough, Hirata." Shinya cut him off.Bookmark here

Shinya patted Hirata's shoulder to console him.Bookmark here

"Kazuma. We understand and are happy for you. Don't worry about us." Shinya said with a faint smile.Bookmark here

"Now let's go, Hirata."Bookmark here

Shinya turned his back to Kazuma and left the place with Hirata, who was still shaken and feeling down.Bookmark here

"Let's hang out again when you have time, Kazu-kun!" Shiho suggested with a wide smile before she also left.Bookmark here

"Yeah." he smiled back.Bookmark here

Now, Kazuma was alone again. His smile faded away after Shiho was not seen anymore. He felt uncomfortable.Bookmark here

"Shinya, what are you planning..." he muttered.Bookmark here

Kazuma knew Shinya well. Therefore, he could also differentiate all of his smiles.Bookmark here

He noticed that Shinya's previous smile hid something vile.Bookmark here

But at that point of time, he could not deduce what Shinya was plotting.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.