Chapter 17:


Third and Final Time

“Hey, Aki?”


“Akane’s changed a lot, hasn’t she?”

“From when?”

“W-well, since we’ve known her?”

“What, so like, a few weeks?”

“No, no, no - I mean, since she started school. I mean, barely anyone calls her the Lonely Ice Princess these days, and everyone seems to really like the new her.”

“Well, she’s cute.”

“And smart.”

“And athletic, a traditional Japanese beauty and-”



“…She said she hated boys, right?”

“…Yeah? Wait…Hayato, seriously, don’t think about-”

“Not me, idiot! I’m talking about Ryuuji!”

“Oh…hmm, surely not, though, right?”

“Why not? It’s possible, isn’t it?”

“What makes you say that?”

“Firstly - ever since we all met up at the pool, Akane has started hanging out with us guys a lot more, right?”


“Not only that! When we were all playing volleyball together, she seemed to get really competitive and got super into it, right?”

“I mean, as much as anyone else, except Ryuuji.”

“Right?! Secondly - there’s something I’ve noticed lately.”


“Well, whenever we’ve been hanging out as a group, hasn’t Akane been constantly looking at Ryuuji?”

“…You noticed that too?”

“Right?! So, I’m not going crazy! I thought for sure she was staring at him a lot and turns out I was right!”

“That might mean nothing, Hayato - if anything, it seems more like she’s just trying to get alone with us one at a time. You’ve seen how she is with Rei, right? That didn’t happen overnight, and even now they’re only barely friends.”

“But, Aki, think about it! Whenever we’re in a group, she keeps looking at him. Not you, not me, not-”

“Definitely not you.”

“Shut up! You know what I’m trying to say, right?”

“That Akane could have a crush on Ryuuji? A decent theory based on thin facts, and that’s forgetting the fact that she said she had a crush on a girl.”

“That was ages ago, and she said that she was bi-sexual. That means she can like both boys and girls, so what if she had a crush on someone, got rejected or gave up, and then started developing feelings for someone else?”

“We wouldn’t know unless we asked the person in question - not that it’s any of our business, you know?”

“And I wouldn’t ask her anyway - not to her face, I mean. She’d probably get really uncomfortable if I asked her, right?”

“Rei could-”

“He’d cave my skull in.”

“Key word - ‘my’, IE you.”


“Look, it’s not like I haven’t thought the same thing. If anything, I hope that’s the case. Ryuuji’s had a big crush on her since the first day they met, and I’ve seen how happy he looks when they’re talking, and-”

“That’s my third point!”


“Whenever we talk to Akane, she meets our eyes, right?”


“She doesn’t with Ryuuji.”

“…You think she’s shy?”

“Or embarrassed.”

“That…no, I mean…that’s just seeing what we want to see.”

“So let’s make it a reality!”


“We’ve got the cultural festival coming up, so, what if we help Ryuuji prepare the perfect stage to confess to her on? What if we make it so perfect, so romantic that she’d be swept off her feet and couldn’t possibly refuse?! And, and! We could try and get them to pair up and stuff, or work on the same projects, or walk around together, and-!”

“Her group of bodyguards won’t like that.”

“We can make this work, Aki, I know we can. Don’t you want to see Ryuuji happy?”

“I do, but I don’t want to upset the others either. Hayato, if we do this and you’re wrong, you know-”

“I know, and, if that’s what happens, I’ll take all the blame.”

“…You’re an idiot.”

“I know.”

“…So, what’s the plan?”