Master Of Rejections But Beginner At Love
Today was the last school day before the summer holidays.
The two greeted each other awkwardly.
A few days passed since the fireworks display.
Since the kiss, Kazuma and Yui tried to pretend like nothing happened but it was more than visible that they still had it in mind.
"N-nice weather today, right?" Kazuma said.
Since then, they only talked about superficial matters every time they met each other. Today was no exception.
Emma, who was always eating lunch with them, noticed that something was off but did not find an opportunity to ask.
Just like the last few school days, school ended with nothing special happening.
"Y-yo! I'm going ahead. I-I have to pick up Rika!"
Yui walked away in a fast pace, leaving dust behind her.
Kazuma hit his forehead against his table.
"Since when is my life a rom com manga..." he muttered.
He was in thoughts.
"I need to talk with her about it... But how?"
Kazuma lifted his head so that his chin rested on the table.
"Aaahh!! I don't know!"
He pulled on his hair as he searched desperately for an answer.
"Kazuma-san? What are you doing here?"
Emma passed by his classroom.
"E-Emma? I could ask you the same."
"Well, I was on duty for cleaning the classroom today. After I finished and left, I heard someone yelling and checked who it was. Now I'm here, hehe." she smiled wryly.
"I-is that so? Wait, is it that late already?!"
He looked hastily at his surrounding. Everyone left and the sun was setting.
"Crap, I didn't even realize how long I was in thoughts!" he cried out loud.
"In thoughts?" she tilted her head.
"N-nothing!" he waved his hands hectically.
It was silent. Only Emma's footsteps echoed in the room as she came closer to Kazuma.
Kazuma looked puzzled at Emma who wore a stern expression.
She took a chair and sat down beside Kazuma.
"Kazuma-san. Did something happen between you and Yui-san?"
Kazuma's body reacted to her question.
"W-what do you mean?" he forced a smile.
"Please stop pretending like I didn't notice. Since the fireworks something felt off. When I saw Yui, she was all red on her face and was distracted by something else. The same could be applied to you after you joined us."
He sighed. His forced smile turned into a melancholic smile.
"You sure are sharp. Alright, I will tell you."
Thus, Kazuma told Emma everything that happened. He told her about the kiss with Yui.
"Whaaat?" Emma could not believe her ears.
She covered her mouth with her hand as she blushed even more than Kazuma currently did.
"Shhh! Not so loud!" he warned her.
His face turned redder.
For him, it was also embarrassing to tell it Emma. However, he was even more embarrassed by his stupidity. Kazuma forgot for a moment that he just told his crush that he kissed another girl.
"So you don't know how to approach her, right? Seeing you two interact lately, I noticed that there was something like a invisible wall between you."
"Yes..." Kazuma agreed.
"I... I want everything to be normal again." he looked at her with determined eyes.
But Emma could only avert her gaze as she bit her lip.
"That's reasonable but..."
"But?" Kazuma was confused.
"It's complicated... Especially with you two." she stated as looked down.
"What do you mean?"
"Kazuma-san. What is Yui to you?" she looked him in the eyes.
"Huh?" he looked at her dumbfounded.
"Yui is my... my friend..." he said hesitatingly.
Internally, something felt off. But he did not know why.
Yui was of course his friend. But she was also the most important person in his life. Since he entered high school, the two would always stick together. Now, he could not imagine a life without her.
Was she really just simply a friend?
"No... I don't know..." he corrected himself as he had a thoughtful expression.
"I see." Emma replied sternly.
"Just remember that she's also a girl, okay?"
Her usual smile returned as she tried to stand up.
Thinking about what Emma just said, Kazuma also stood up. But he did not see that Emma was also standing up.
Due to the narrow space between the seats, Emma and Kazuma, who both stood up simultaneously, were close to each other. They were so close to each other, they could even feel the breath of the other one.
Kazuma distanced himself quickly from her.
Emma also took a few steps back from him.
Their faces were red and their hearts also beat faster than usual.
Kazuma touched his chest.
He realized something. In comparison to Yui, his heart did not beat as fast. Of course, there was a huge difference between the two situation but his heart still beat less faster than he anticipated.
A few months ago, his heart was about to explode when she was in his vicinity but now his heart was not as excited as back then.
"S-should we go now?" Emma suggested shyly and still embarrassed.
"Sure..." he said with a casual smile as he was still in thoughts.
As the two walked to the shoe lockers, they saw a group of boys harassing a boy.
"Is that everything you got on you?"
"Don't screw with us!"
It was Ken and his usual companions.
Ken watched indifferently how his friends bullied the boy.
Emma, who could not bear the sight anymore, was about to meddle but was stopped by Kazuma. He stretched his arm in front of her to hold her back.
"Kirisaki." Kazuma said with a playful grin.
Ken was visible shocked by Kazuma's appearance.
"Tch." he clicked in tongue, knowing what Kazuma tried to say.
"Let's go, leave the boy alone." Ken ordered the others.
"Is it because of him?"
"Let's just beat him up like last time."
"Don't make me repeat myself." Ken said in an annoyed tone.
The others nodded silently and vanished with him.
"T-thanks!" the boy, who was harassed, bowed his head in gratitude and walked away.
The hallways were silent again.
"W-what did you do, Kazuma-san?" Emma asked confused.
"Nothing in particular." he shrugged his shoulders.
They began to walk again.
Emma tried to say something as the two arrived at the lockers.
"Ken wasn't always like that." she stated as she smiled melancholic.
"Hard to believe." he remarked carelessly.
"Back then, he was kind and always smiled happily."
"There was a time, when I was isolated from the others in elementary school due to my sudden transfer. I spent my days alone until Ken reached out to me."
"And since then, he was always by my side, even until our second year in middle school..." her smile slowly vanished.
"What happened in your second year?" Kazuma asked.
"He suddenly distanced himself from me and turned to the person he's today..."
"I felt incredibly sad... He was the only friend I had..."
She bit her lip.
"Do you know the reason why he changed?"
Emma shook her head in denial.
Kazuma took a deep breath.
"Do you want him to return to his usual self?"
She nodded her head slowly after she thought for a while.
"Understood. I will help you."
Kazuma had a stern look on his face.
"What?" she looked up to him with a baffled expression.
"You helped me with my problem. Now it's my turn to lend you a hand. After all, that's what friends do, right?" he borrowed her words.
She just stared baffled at him for a moment.
"Thanks, Kazuma-san! I appreciate it!"
She had a smile that was beaming with more happiness than the previous ones.
"Yeah, leave it to me."
Despite wanting to flash a reassuring smile, he looked indifferently ahead.
"I have to go left. See you then!"
"Yes, let's hang out with Yui-san sometime!"
Emma waved energetically her hand at Kazuma, who faced her with his back as he turned away. He only raised his hand as a farewell.
They parted ways.
Kazuma heaved a heavy sigh.
"I'm so stupid..."
He was dejected.
"Why did I suggest helping?" he muttered.
Of course, Kazuma wanted to help her but he wished that it would not involve Ken. Now he had to give Ken a change of heart.
But in the end, it would just damage his chances to win her heart.
"She sure misses him..."
During the entire duration of her talk about Ken, she looked sad.
"What would happen if Kirisaki returned to his former self?"
Kazuma got a headache, thinking about the scenario, where Ken and Emma made up.
"Hahaha..." he laughed self wryly.
Kazuma would basically help his crush to get together with her former love interest.
"It was an impossible romance from the start..."
He realized that Emma had her eyes at Ken from the very start. There was no space for him. He was just a friend.
He touched his chest.
"Why doesn't it hurt?"
A few months ago, his heart would have been shattered, hearing her talk about Ken, but this time the pain was non-existent.
Then, the image of a certain person flashed in his mind as he touched the place where his heart was.
"No way..." his eyes widened.