“Uhm, you know... Maybe it would be best if you drop that glare so we can talk about what happened.” I puckered my lips as I glanced hesitantly at Kyashii. She has said nothing and is simply staring at me in silence.
We’ve been standing beneath these trees for a full minute now after walking past the torii gate. And although we can see a few people on the main street, we’re pretty much the only ones in this small grove. Actually, it almost seems like we are some sort of shady characters lurking around here.
“Uhh… Okay? So... Uhmm…” I have no idea where to start this conversation again!
“Is there anything you want me to explain before I ask you a few things, Yuyo?” Kyashii cocked her head to her left as she smiled at me in an off-center fashion.
“Aah… Y-Yeah.” That’s right... Now that the opportunity has presented itself, I can finally ask those questions that have been plaguing my mind for the past few days. I have to get some mental clutter out of my head. “W-Well, as I pointed out yesterday, I was wondering why you never told me you were dating. I took it as a given that you will keep your word about that stuff and fill me in.” I locked my gaze on her.
“...Tell me, Yuyo, what was it that I had promised you back then?” Her right eyebrow arched with amusement when she looked squarely at me.
Why is she even wearing that expression?
“That you will tell me about that person you like.” My response was stoic.
“Exactly. I don’t think I’ve gone back on my word, Yuyo.” Kyashii’s lips twisted into a petulant smile.
“What?! But you—”
“Alright! Hold it right there! I had it up to here with your denseness!” She cut me off before I could even finish what I was saying.
“Haaah?! Come again?!”
“Look, I’m not dating anyone, okay?! And I have zero interest in that guy! Gosh! I wish you’d put your assumptive nature in the right place!”
“Ooh, really?” I can’t resist sounding sarcastic. “Yet you were alone with him in the shade of those trees, Kyashii, and—”
“Sooo?” She interrupted me yet again. “Since we’re under these trees right now, does that mean we’re dating too?!”
“Whaatt?! Our friendship makes us look nothing like that! And I’m a girl, whereas he’s a guy! Are you even friends with that person?!”
“Huh?! Ah! W-Well, no...”
“See??” I smirked.
“Even so, that doesn’t mean we’re dating! Ooh~… Let me take a guess... Your indifference to love makes it easy for you to forget confessions are possible under those trees, doesn’t it??” Kyashii made a caustic comment.
“. . . .”
Uhh… I think I abruptly lost my arsenal of retorts.
My eyes then gradually shifted downward as I stood rooted to the spot.
Right… C-Confession… How could I not have considered that possibility? I was under the impression that the two were an item from the get-go. However, I made that assumption purely based on how I felt at the time.
Then this means that what I’ve been moping about all these days is utterly imaginary as it turns out I was wrong in my assumption, right?! Even worse, we didn't talk for a while, mainly because I misread things?!
How… Just how could I have gotten so incredibly stupid?!
I’m such a dolt! All that anxiety was for nothing more than a simple blunder of judgment on my part! And to twist the knife in the wound, my stupidity really hurt Kyashii, didn’t it?
A heavy weight settled on my chest as I recollected Kyashii’s pained expression yesterday as she asked why I had totally ignored her for a while.
“What... Cat got your tongue?” Kyashii ended the uneasy silence that had fallen between us.
My gaze slowly returned to her face. “I… I’m sorry, Kyashii. I was stupid to make some assumptions. Now I understand the blame lies squarely with me.” I muttered under my breath.
“Yeah, that’s right! Hmph!” She scowled and averted her eyes from me. “But... I wanted to know if that’s the primary reason you were upset with me. Is it because you thought I was seeing someone and that I had broken my promise?”
“Y-Yes… What else could it possibly be?”
“Heeh~... Now I get it. At first, I thought you were upset with me for looking like I was dating on the campus grounds. Knowing you, that’s a pretty firm rule in your book.” She then smiled half-heartedly at me.
“There’s also that.”
“Umm… In retrospect, I realized I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m perfectly aware of the possibility that it might look like we’re dating or something.”
“Right?! That kind of thinking is common to anyone. S-So I guess you can’t hold that against me, can you?”
“Haaah?! Seriously, you’re still trying to devise a plausible excuse?!” Kyashii’s quick, fierce look stunned me. “Had you come to us yourself instead of sending Ezaki-san, I would have cleared that up right away in your face!” She exploded. “How could you have sent him in the first place?! He’s not even on the student council!”
Right... That was another faux pas on my part.
Arrggh! A mistake leads to another! It’s a vicious cycle of my inane mistakes! This is something I need to reflect on!
“T-That... Err... H-He offered to help b-because he said he knew it would be uncomfortable for me to c-cut in... And that is certainly the case, given I’ve already assumed you were d-dating. Ha-ha...” I fumblingly laughed.
“Really? It’s convenient how he’s there to help you out of all places. Isn’t that great?” There is a hint of mockery in her tone. “Anyway, to set the record straight... Shibasaki Yuyo, what you saw that day wasn’t a date! Since that guy has become increasingly persistent, I did my best to decline his advances in a more appropriate place. He won’t just stop bothering me if I say no to him without explaining myself. Also, I’d rather not deal with confessions again where people can just walk right past us... However, having ourselves reported to the student council was the furthest thing from my mind. It was bad luck for me... So, there you have it. Have you made sense of everything so far?”
Oooh... I see.
“Y-Yes… I’m truly sorry, Kyashii. I made a mistake assuming you were dating. Since you don’t seem to be entirely forthcoming with me about that thing, my mind jumped to conclusions and even entertained the possibility you never really saw me as your best friend.” The strength of my smile is dwindling, and my chest feels tight.
In all honesty, I feel terrible about how I treated Kyashii now that I realize how wrong I was. The last thing I wanted was for her to go through unnecessarily stressful situations.
I don’t get why I have to be so slow to grasp simple concepts about this stuff. And it’s not like I’m completely clueless about romance.
Hmm... Kyashii’s probably right when she said my indifference to this subject limits me from seeing the bigger picture. If I keep making snap judgments when faced with situations like that, I am bound to make yet another mistake, right?
“Talk about not telling her best friend much. Hmmph! Aren’t you the one who’s not telling me things, Yuyo?” Kyashii’s eyes grew icily cold.
“Huh? A-About what?”
“You mentioned having s-someone you l-liked! I thought you weren’t interested in those things, and now you suddenly have a romantic interest?! Now, who’s keeping things from her best friend again?!” Faint embers of rage begin to flicker in her eyes.
“Aah!” She’s referring to my bluff during that game. “Aha-ha! It’s not what you think, Kyashii. I was bluffing last night, I swear. Ahm… It was a boring game, so I was just trying to have some fun with it. Yeah, that’s right… I don’t have a crush on anyone. Heh-heh,” I lightly press my forefingers together in an effort to calm my racing heartbeat.
Kyashii’s looking pretty scary! And no way I will admit I was after her blood back then. I refuse to make blunder after blunder that will enrage her further.
“Ooh?” Kyashii’s face lightened up. “Umm? Was that really the case?”
“Yes, that’s the whole deal. As you pointed out, it’s no secret that I’m not interested in that stuff. I’m just playing a ruse!”
“Oh, yeah?” Her face slowly drew closer to mine. “How sure are you that you’re not still interested at all, Yuyo?”
Uhh... What’s with her getting her pretty face close to me?
While staring at her face without meaning to, my eyes strayed to her lips.
Hmm... Now that I think about it, I’m curious how I’d react if Kyashii had planted that peck on my lips instead of Tomoka. If kissing a friend is acceptable, then why not a best friend, right?
“And where are your eyes wandering, Yuyo?” Kyashii’s lips crinkled in amusement.
Wait… Wha— Why in the world am I thinking such a thing?!
Oh, my goodness! I think Tomoka’s cheeky impulses are starting to rub off on me. Guhh! That girl has an adverse effect on me!
“Aherm… N-Nothing…” I let out a small awkward chuckle. “As for your first question, I’m pretty sure I’m not still into that. Why would I be interested?”
“I don’t know. I thought you might reconsider after last night’s kiss. Umm… Yuyo, how did it feel for you when Mizuno-san kissed you?” I now have Kyashii staring at my lips.
“Uhh? Nothing? It’s just a smooch. Friends can be that way at times, and I get it. Moreover, Tomoka mentioned she simply desired to try new things like kissing a friend, so I guess it’s okay.” I shrugged.
“I mean, you didn’t think a girl kissing you was gross?” She leaned in even closer.
“Uhh…” Why does she keep getting closer and closer to my face?! I could hardly take a breath! “Honestly, no... That incident wasn’t malicious at all, so it’s fine.”
“Heeh~… Is that so?” Not once did Kyashii take her eyes off my lips. “Are you saying you don’t mind if your friends kiss you like that again?” Her face glowed with a teasing expression.
Hang on a second…
“The way I see it, it’s fine. So… Kyashii-chan, do you also want to try kissing a friend, which is why you keep getting your face close to mine right now?” With a ribbing smile dotted on my lips, I followed her lead and brought my face closer to hers. “All you have to do is ask. You might get to do it, you know? After all, you are my best friend~….” I said in a hushed tone as I suppressed a goofy grin.
At that precise moment, I saw Kyashii’s eyes shift from amusement to utter shock. She even seemed to hold her breath for a second as her face steadily grew beet red.
“Whaaa—!” She jumped away from me in the space of a single second. “J-Just wh-what on blue heavens are you saying, Yuyo?! No, I d-don’t plan on doing that! That’s n-not something you do to your best friend!” She turned her back on me quickly with her hands cupped across her face.
I burst out laughing.
Oh, boy~… What an adorable reaction. Teasing her is a lot of fun.
She thought she had me beat on the teasing front, huh? Too bad... She has a long way to go before matching my skills there.
I maintained my amused, smug smile as I looked at Kyashii. She’s flailing her palms in front of her face, and her visible ear is also a bright red.
Hmm... It kind of makes me feel a lot better now that I can tease her like this again. I miss poking fun at her.
“. . . .”
My playful smile evaporated.
Yeah… I missed Kyashii. And even though she’s here with me right now, a part of me still misses my best friend.
My mind goes back to the stupid thing I did that hurt her for days. I now know I’m responsible for the sadness I saw in her eyes yesterday.
“Kyashii…” I mumbled as I moved closer to her.
“Wh-What? I told you I wasn’t thinking anything like that!” She hasn’t turned to face me yet.
I smiled at her even though she was facing the other way. “That’s not it….”
And before she could turn around to face me again, my arms seemed to move on their own as they encircled Kyashii’s shoulders from behind.