Chapter 24:

Third and Final Time

Third and Final Time

After all of that, life…returned to normal.

My friends, my family, they still loved me, and they never once let me forget that.

Every day, without fail, my parents bid me good morning and talked with me as we ate breakfast as a family.

Hinata and Ami picked me up and walked with me to school.

In the classroom, Inori and Kana never stopped spending time with me.

At lunch, Ami, Haru, Sayaka and Amane would join our group and I looked forward to that time the most.

The whole school knew I was dating Hinata, and the reaction was still half and half.

Or so I thought.

After Ryuuji apologised to us and wished us the best, more people became supportive of our relationship. In fact, after I accepted his public apology, Ryuuji’s reputation recovered a little too, which I was happy about.

Ryuuji was my friend, and he wasn’t the one who’d scarred me.

Everything had just gone back to normal.

For once, I was living a normal life.

A nice, healthy, normal life-

“So, do you agree to these ground rules?”


“And you vow to never break them?”

“Of course!”

“Then, sign the contract please, Miss Ami and we can-”

“Why…didn’t I get…a say in this?”

“Because you’d refuse!” They both objected.

Apparently, no matter the life, I was not destined for a normal one.

After I’d told everyone the truth, Ami and Hinata had both stayed the night to discuss our ‘situation’ as they dubbed it. Initially, I expected Hinata to break the harsh news to Ami that we were together and that would never change.

We did both love each other and had sworn to stay together forever.

“Do you still love Akane?”

“…I do.”

“Even after all these years and everything that’s happened.”

“It’s…only grown.”

God, it was just as embarrassing for me as it was Ami.

“Then, if I said I was okay with you staying by her side, what would you do?”


We were both stunned.

“Um, Hinata what do you-?”

“Akane’s my girlfriend, and I don’t want to share her with anyone, but.” Hinata folded her arms and exhaled loudly. “Given everything you told me, and Akane told me, I just wouldn’t feel right pushing you out completely. So!” She slammed a hand down on the table. “If you don’t mind being the second, and agreeing to a lot of ground rules, I’ll allow it.”



“No, no, no! What’s going on, Hinata?” I protested. “Aren’t we a couple? Why-?”

“Akane.” Hinata spoke firmly and glared at me. “This girl has loved you for years and has worked her butt off for you in the shadows all this time. She’s racked with regrets and depressed out of her mind; do you not like her?”

“N-no, but-”

“If Ami had confessed to you back then, would you have said yes?”


“Be honest.”



“Stop sounding so happy, Ami!” I cried, but my reactions didn’t seem to disturb either of them even a little. “Also, Hinata, why are you so on board with this?”

“Because, if I had been in her shoes, I don’t think I would’ve been able to keep going. I mean, if I saw you all happy and lovey-dovey with another girl after losing you, I’d…be so crushed, I don’t know what I’d do.”

Hinata took my hands in hers. “If it had been anyone else or if you had a long life ahead of you, I’d never have even thought about this, but I don’t think I’d be able to live happily with you if I knew we’d hurt Ami like that.”

“She seems pretty happy right now.”

“Because I’m letting her in on this, on us.”

“…To what extent?”

“Um…well, I-eh, hahaha, I sort of thought…all…of it.”


“Not like all of us together, but if she was like a, um, uh…you know, a second…girlfriend. But not officially! I’m still the official and she could live with us and stuff, but just some days…she’d get to spend with just you. And I’d get the same sort of thing, and somehow, it’d all work out, and we’d all live happily ever after…but the look on your face says I’m an idiot.”

“Your powers of deduction have grown.”

It took them four hours to convince me, once they had, Ami was so elated she immediately kissed me.

Had Hinata not forcefully separated us, she would have made out with me.

Why can’t I ever have a normal life?

Is Akane Yuki doomed to have an abnormal life even when she’s happy?

Which brings us back to the signing of the contract.

It basically says that Ami acknowledges that she’s not my girlfriend, that we get two days a week with just the two of us, and that she may never introduce herself as part of our relationship to anyone but our close friends and parents.

Somehow, my parents blessed my new relationship.

Inori and Kana just kind of shrugged it off, saying “Only you guys could ever think something like this was a good idea.” Though, they did wish us happiness.

Rei was dumbfounded - he sat absentmindedly for the rest of the day.

Ryuuji said he was happy for us, Hayato said something dumb, and Aki hit him for it.

So, the usual sort of reaction my friends would give.

Even Haru, Sayaka and Amane all congratulated us and wished us happiness. They even started hanging out with our group more often and I was excited to spend my days with them again.

We spent the rest of our high school days like that and then, on graduation day, they got me a big surprise present.

In secret, they had all applied for the same university as me.

I cried.

Loudly and happily.

Ami and Hinata hugged me warmly, saying “Isn’t that great, Akane?”


What did I deserve to do such great friends like all of you?

Had I finally received a divine blessing or-?


That wasn’t it.

I smiled and wiped my tears away.

This wasn’t just the result of a God or a Devil’s intervention.

This was the result of my own actions.

Of my lives.

Of my decisions.

Of my bonds.

And that washed away ever remaining doubt and cloudy thought inside my heart.

On that day, I truly, from the bottom of my heart, felt alive.

Time would pass, of course, much quicker now that I had so much to enjoy.

Studying at university with everyone was one of the best experiences of my life.

Marrying Hinata after we graduated became my fondest memory, though the honeymoon was slightly strange as Hinata invited Ami to come with us.

Though, as time went on, I came to love her as much as I did Hinata.

Hinata and Ami too felt the same.

We were happy.

Other people judged us, said our relationship was weird or abnormal, but we didn’t care.

It was our lives, not theirs.

We moved into a big house in the city and adopted two young girls.

They brightened up our lives even more.

My third life had so many things I looked forward to, so many moments I wished would never end, and so many happy memories that I’d never forget.

My birthday party had just ended and everyone else was asleep.

We just about had enough guest rooms for everyone, though it was a bit early to be going to bed.

We always partied into the early hours of the morning unless someone had to leave early for work the next day.

No one left early on my birthday.

…It was such a fun day.

Everyone was so happy, everyone was laughing, sharing stories, some of which we’d almost forgotten, and looking through our photo albums.

Hinata asked for a camera on her birthday, and it was rarely out of her hand.

Twenty-eight photo albums a year on average.

I laughed gently at how ridiculous it all sounded.

It was a good life.

I couldn’t have asked for more.

Tonight, I was spending the night in my wife and girlfriend’s arms.

They both stroked my body and kissed me, saying nothing and just waiting.

I had heard them cry a few times, but they didn’t let me see any tears.

Today had been a good day.

I think it was the best birthday I’d ever had.

When the morning comes, I wonder what will happen next?

Will I know when it happens or-

The alarm went off.

A long life does not equal a happy life.


“Happy birthday, Akane.”

I was happy.