Chapter 10:

The Bonds of Friendship

who I am is not who I want to be

They may not have shared blood, but their bond ran deeper than mere friendship. Saho and Akane, once close friends, treated each other like siblings. They had spent countless hours together, going shopping, and enjoying various activities, reveling in the joy of their companionship.

Saho possessed an amiable personality, getting along with everyone he met. Karma felt a profound sense of gratitude toward him for his unwavering support.

In school, Saho was a popular figure. He was friendly, approachable, and excelled in sports, endearing himself to everyone. During the hours when Akane's parents were busy at work, he would watch over her. However, this earned him the ire of his own parents.

Despite his amicability, Saho could be rather extreme in his approach to teaching Akane. He once admonished her, commanding her to lower her shoulders, relax, and focus on her studies. Despite the stern lessons, Karma thought Saho was a remarkable friend but not necessarily a great teacher.

Their friendship had begun when Akane was twelve, and her father began pressuring her to emulate Saho. She often sought refuge in Saho's home when she had nowhere else to go. Her father's inattentiveness had driven her to seek Saho's companionship whenever she needed attention.

She would silently slip into Saho's room, finding solace in his presence. On one occasion, she requested that he take her to an ice cream parlor, employing her stubborn tone. Saho initially resisted but eventually relented, promising to take her after he had finished his work.

When they finally went, Saho guided her to a cafe instead, claiming they had made a mistake. In reality, he had orchestrated this diversion.

Unbeknownst to Akane, Saho had predicted that her father would appear. Mr. Manzo confronted them, questioning their presence. Saho explained that they had completed their tasks and were enjoying some leisure time. This was Saho's way of proving to Akane that he was a dependable friend.

After this adventure, Akane returned home, greeted by the absence of her mother. She felt disregarded by her mother, who seemed to prioritize everything else above her. Yet, she remained hopeful, believing that her mother would one day appreciate her efforts and dedication.

Akane's interactions with Eiji, one of the family's servants, revealed her desire for acknowledgment. She showed Eiji a drawing she had worked on for hours, emphasizing her commitment to her craft. This gesture reflected her determination to earn her mother's love and recognition.

On Sundays, Akane looked forward to playing softball with Saho and their friends. Despite Saho's busy schedule, he always made time for this cherished tradition, prioritizing Akane above all else.

Their game was interrupted by an unexpected rainstorm, forcing everyone to abandon the field and return home. Akane, eager to spend more time with Saho, couldn't help but wish for the rain to stop so they could continue their game.

As they sat in Saho's car, Akane found herself momentarily distracted by an attractive, powerful-looking guy on the opposing team. Her infatuation didn't go unnoticed by Saho, who teased her gently.

Once home, Akane went through her daily routines, still yearning for the warmth of her mother's attention. However, her mother's absence continued, leaving Akane to pursue her art and hobbies in search of self-validation and recognition.

While their friendship may have seemed unconventional to others, Akane treasured Saho's companionship. His unwavering support and guidance had a profound impact on her life, shaping her into the person she had become.