Chapter 12:

Closer To Uncertainty (Part 2)

Unconsciously Interested

“Man... I’m tired after all that walking.” I slumped across our table after placing our meal order. We walked to a café for lunch after buying our books.Bookmark here

Kyashii was sitting next to me while Minori was across from us, with our shopping bags beside her. Bookmark here

“Are you heading home after this, Minori?” Kyashii asked.Bookmark here

“Hmm… Would you still like to go elsewhere, Kyashii-chan?” Bookmark here

My right hand shot up. “I’ll take a rain check… I’m tired. I wanna go home.”Bookmark here

“What?!” Kyashii seemed surprised.Bookmark here

“What… You don’t plan on hanging out all day, do you?” My eyes stayed on her.Bookmark here

“N-No... Not at all. I was just hoping we could stay a bit longer and hang out before heading home.”Bookmark here

“Ohh... I think Kyashii just wanted to spend more time with us, Yuyo. Let’s hang out a little longer.” Minori concurred.Bookmark here

“I’ve been hanging out with her recently, though,” I mumbled despite myself. Bookmark here

“What exactly does that mean?! You don’t want to stay a little longer?” Kyashii is staring piercingly at me.Bookmark here

“Naah... Who says such a thing? Of course, I’m in!” I flashed her a wolfish grin. Bookmark here

“Hmmph!”Bookmark here

When she glares at me that way, it’s almost like a warning for me to agree or to agree. Otherwise, I will just end up wasting our time. Bookmark here

Yep... That is to say, a glare like that leaves me with no choice.Bookmark here

“Then, it’s settled. Let’s hang out a little longer after this. Where should we go next?” Minori asked.Bookmark here

“Anywhere but with a prankster, please.” I grumbled.Bookmark here

“Ahaha! I guess you’re still shaken up by what happened earlier, Yuyo.” Minori giggled.Bookmark here

“I don’t do well with shocking stuff like that since I get startled easily. You can tell by my reaction back there. My grip on Kyashii might have been a little too tight.” I looked at Kyashii. “Sorry about that, Kyashii.” Bookmark here

“N-No... It’s fine, Yuyo. I understand.” Kyashii softly replied.Bookmark here

“Thank you. So, we must keep our distance from those pranksters. With those guys swarming around me, I can’t last a second! They’re bothersome.”Bookmark here

“Mmm... But If they’re just trying to make ends meet, I suppose it’s fine, right?” Kyashii noted.Bookmark here

“Yeah... Sure...”Bookmark here

“Isn’t it amazing how you can earn money just by doing those things?” Minori added her two cents.Bookmark here

“Yeah… Come to think of it, some people without academic degree earn more than those with one. Just being creative and resourceful will do the trick. The stark reality of this tough world, huh?” I pondered. Bookmark here

“That’s true, with a bit of luck on your side... Perhaps I should look into working in that industry.” Minori made a lighthearted remark.Bookmark here

“Why not, Minori? It’s not going to hurt to give it a shot.” Minori gets a thumbs up from Kyashii.Bookmark here

Ara~... Kyashii-chan, don’t tempt me...” Bookmark here

“If you enjoy doing stuff like that, Minori, then why not? Since we’re talking about money, the lifeblood of today’s society, I think being a content creator is a great way to earn it. That said, although the path to becoming a content creator may appear straightforward, the success of that career depends heavily on the results. And getting there won’t be easy. You’ll need to be adept at video editing and marketing your content to a wider audience, among other things.” I made a comment on the subject. Bookmark here

“Yeah, I can see how that might be challenging,” Minori replied.Bookmark here

“I’m curious if people enjoy being content creator as their job, or are they merely in it for the money? Some well-known creators seem to have gone offline so suddenly, despite making a lot of money in the process. That got me wondering if they were unhappy with that career choice.” My thoughts drifted back to my future career goals. Bookmark here

“Perhaps that’s the case. As the saying goes, you can’t buy happiness with money.” Kyashii mused.Bookmark here

“Uhm… I think it does at some point. You can put a price on happiness.” I retorted.Bookmark here

“Ehh?!” Kyashii’s expression is one of befuddlement. Minori is simply paying close attention.Bookmark here

“At least, that’s how I see it. For instance, traveling makes me happy, but how can I do so without money? Simply put, money is a source of happiness. Unfortunately, in today’s world, many people are so focused on making money that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to earn money and be happy at the same time.”Bookmark here

“Ohh…” Kyashii seemed to be giving a lot of thought to what I just said.Bookmark here

“That sounds about right. I say that’s the reality of adulthood. For that reason, you must decide on a career that is both personally and financially rewarding.” Minori reflected with a smile.Bookmark here

“Rigghhhttt…? That’s why I’m in a total bind! I have no idea what I want to do in the future.” I whined. The harsh reality of this world surprises me. Even though I kind of expected it, it still scares me.Bookmark here

“I see some pitfalls of having too many interests.” Minori grinned at the sight of me complaining.Bookmark here

“My thoughts exactly...” I sighed. Bookmark here

“You will eventually get there, Yuyo. Just take your time thinking about it. I’m confident you can get through it.” Kyashii smiles fondly at me, giving me a shot in the arm.Bookmark here

“Uhh... Yeah. I hope so. Thanks, Kyashii.” I reciprocated her warm smile. Her smile puts me at ease. Bookmark here

That smile is something I’d like to see more of, probably because it’s my go-to source of energy boost whenever I need it. Bookmark here

“Anyway, Yuyo, your conviction that money can buy happiness makes sense to me. So, by any chance, how much would Yuyo Shibasaki be worth if she were someone’s happiness?” Minori smiles brightly at me as she leans her elbows on our table, her chin resting on her clasped hands.Bookmark here

“Haaah?!” I don’t even know what expression I’m making right now with that question. “What are you on about? I’m priceless!”Bookmark here

“Ehh? Too bad… I thought I might be able to help someone buy you. Hmm... I wonder if your best friend knows it.” She smiles playfully. “Kyashii-chan, how much is Yuyo?”Bookmark here

“H-How could I possibly know?! I’m not interested in buying her!” Kyashii shot back with a glare.Bookmark here

Ara~ I’m certain that you’re not, Kyashii-chan. I was just hoping you’d let me know so I could pass it along to that certain someone. Besides, you already have her for free, don’t you?” Minori keeps her grin on.Bookmark here

Wha... They talk about me like I’m not even here! Bookmark here

“Hey! You two... Quit talking about me as if I’m a commodity. Get off this weird topic already… And Minori, whether money can buy happiness depends on the circumstances, but I suppose you can also buy someone with it. Alas, I’m not one of them.” I squinted at her. Bookmark here

“Boo... That’s a bummer, Yuyo.” Minori pouted.Bookmark here

“Yeah... Yeah... Whatever.”Bookmark here

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“I’ll see you both on Monday.” Minori waved as we parted ways.Bookmark here

Kyashii nodded in response. “See you later, Minori.” Bookmark here

“Take care, Minori. Thanks for today.” I slightly bowed. It’s almost 3 p.m., and I’m itching to get home as well. I’m exhausted. Bookmark here

“Do you want me to walk you to your station?” I asked Kyashii.Bookmark here

“Huh? Uhh... No. Uhmm..” She’s fidgety as if she’s bothered by something.Bookmark here

“What is it? Do you still need to go somewhere else?”Bookmark here

“Ahh... Do you mind if we go back to the bookstore?”Bookmark here

“Why? You forgot to get something?” Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah. The truth is, I feel somewhat embarrassed about buying it since Minori was there. I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time.” Kyashii blinked embarrassingly. Bookmark here

Why is she using keigo all of a sudden?Bookmark here

“Na-uhh... I get it, so it’s fine. That said, please don’t put on that polite character. It bothers me. That doesn’t fit with your pushy nature.” Bookmark here

“What?! You’re a total jerk!”Bookmark here

“Hmm, that’s better... Now, come on.” I grab her hand and lead her back to the bookstore.Bookmark here

“You’re really comfortable holding my hands, Yuyo.” Kyashii noted out of nowhere.Bookmark here

“This?” I lifted our hands together. “We’re best friends, so holding hands comes naturally to us. And your hand is so soft. I like it.”Bookmark here

“R-Really?”Bookmark here

“Yep... I could squish it like this.” Grinning, I squeezed my fingers against hers.Bookmark here

“Ouch! That hurts!” Kyashii glared at me. She usually pulls her hand if I do that, but not this time. Bookmark here

“Hahaha! Sorry… My hand just likes to mess with yours.”Bookmark here

“Hmmph! Ahm... Yuyo, y-your fingers are slightly long. You don’t like growing your nails?” Kyashii stared intently at my fingers.Bookmark here

“No. I get irritated when they get too long. For some reason, having long nails makes me feel as if I could hurt myself.”Bookmark here

“Ohh... That’s nice to know.” Kyashii smiles inexplicably.Bookmark here

“What’s up with that smile?”Bookmark here

“Ehh?! N-Nothing! Anyway, let’s get to the bookstore. It’s getting a little hot outside.”Bookmark here

Is it again?Bookmark here

“. . . .” Bookmark here

But yeah, given the time of day, I suppose it’s a tad hot now. Bookmark here

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“Uhh... Are you saying this is what you forgot to buy?” I ended up giving Kyashii a death stare.Bookmark here

“Well, yeah? What’s wrong with that?” she scowled at me.Bookmark here

“And here I thought it was something embarrassing! You could have just bought it this morning.” I complained.Bookmark here

We just walked back into the bookstore to buy a romance manga?! Is she for real?Bookmark here

“I mean, it’s kind of embarrassing since it’s a manga. If Minori finds out I’m into this stuff, she might think I’m weird.” Kyashii pouted.Bookmark here

“Huh?! Why would that be weird? Besides, I doubt Minori is like that.”Bookmark here

“Ah... Umm... Because it would make me look as if I have a gap moe. I know she isn’t like that, but I can’t help but feel embarrassed.”Bookmark here

Gapmo what? Bookmark here

What in the world does that even mean? She’s suddenly speaking an entirely different language that is Greek to me.Bookmark here

“. . . .”Bookmark here

Although I believe Minori isn’t the type of person Kyashii is worried about, I totally get her apprehension. Some people still think of otakus in an unfavorable light. I guess that’s why Kyashii’s reluctant to share that part of herself.Bookmark here

Come to think of it... I had no idea she was into this sort of thing either.Bookmark here

“So anyway, I didn’t even know you were interested in this manga thing. Are you cool with me?”Bookmark here

“You’re my best friend, so of course. You wouldn’t dump me as your best friend just because I’m into this stuff, would you?” She stared at me with a knowing expression on her face. Bookmark here

“No, of course not! It’s just that I’m wondering why you wouldn’t want Minori to find out while you don’t mind me knowing. But yeah, as your best friend, I should be aware of your concealed interest.” I nodded repeatedly.Bookmark here

“Right...?! So now, I’ll tell you one of my secrets. I like romance manga.” She said smugly.Bookmark here

I couldn’t help but chuckle at her expression. “Well, thanks for sharing your secret with me. I’m guessing you’re into anime as well?” Bookmark here

“Oh... Not much. Although I watch them occasionally, I prefer reading my manga.”Bookmark here

“How come you can read a manga but not your textbooks?”Bookmark here

“Excuse you, those are two distinct things! Textbooks are tedious. My manga has cute graphics with adorable reactions on it.”Bookmark here

“Heeh… So, Kyashii has an otaku side to her?"Bookmark here

“I don’t think I’m one. I’m not obsessed with my manga, and cosplay isn’t something I’m interested in either.” Bookmark here

“Why? It seems like you’d be perfect for it.”Bookmark here

“You sound like this is completely natural to you. Are you possibly an otaku, Yuyo?” She stared at me with suspicion.Bookmark here

“Yeah... Sure. I’m one of those who would go bonkers over a maid’s costume.” I reacted sarcastically. “I’m not! It’s just that this whole otaku thing is totally fine with me.”Bookmark here

“Ohh... Thank goodness! You don’t find anything weird about it.” She sighed as if she was relieved of something.Bookmark here

“Hmm... Are you worried I might think you’re a weirdo once I find out you are into manga?”Bookmark here

“Yup… Although I acted calmly throughout, I’m actually anxious you would think I’m weird after learning about it.”Bookmark here

A soft laugh escaped my throat. “You’re overthinking things, Kyashii. I don’t mind no matter what hobbies and interests you have that aren’t typical for our age group.”Bookmark here

“R-Really?” Her lips curved into a shy smile. Bookmark here

“Yeah... Having a distinct interest doesn’t make you a lesser person. What matters to me is that you’re happy with what you do. I’ll be happy to support you on it. So don’t get too worked up about it. I care about your happiness more than anything else.” I smiled at her.Bookmark here

“Ughh….! This isn’t fair.” Kyashii cupped her hands around her face.Bookmark here

“Huh? What is?”Bookmark here

“You… You’re no fair, Yuyo!” she blurted.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“Nothing! Anyway, thank you for coming back with me. Let’s go home,” Kyashii hurriedly walked away.Bookmark here

“Hey! Kyashii, wait! Don’t you just leave me behind!”Bookmark here

What’s with my friends’ hasty walking whenever they’re in the bookstore? I’d say this is weird, not the manga or anything else.Bookmark here

Sigh…Bookmark here

Whatever… Let’s just catch up with my runaway best friend and head home. Tiredness is setting in.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.