Chapter 54:

Out of the Loop

Unconsciously Interested


“Oow~! Ohoho! What’s this, Yu-chin?” Tomoka straightened up and sealed her annoyance-inducing stare squarely on me. “Something must have happened out there to pique your interest in this now, yeah?”

“Who knows?” My response was nonchalant. “After all, I found this quite curious; you constantly crack jokes about being a wife to a girl, along with sneaking a kiss on me. I was just wondering if you weren’t joking about batting for the other team.”

“Heee…” Tomoka flashes an enigmatic grin out of thin air. “Do you still think I was just messing around when I claimed you as my wife, Yu-chin?”

My brows furrowed in reflex. “Certainly. You called me that within minutes of the first time we met, making it quite ridiculous when neither of us is familiar with one other. And, with your carefree nature, pretty much everyone will likely take that as given.”

“Neat point, Yu-chin!” Her head tilted back. “Yep... Others often take me lightly, even when I’m dead serious about something. However, it’s hardly shocking that it’s always like that, yeah?” Her smile faltered.

“Hmm?” In passing, I occasionally wonder how Tomoka reacts to the challenges life presents if she usually appears unbothered by them, given she’s always upbeat. Yet, to my mind, she seemed to be hiding behind a facade. Still, I don’t feel right asking her about personal matters seeing as how she isn’t particularly forthcoming about that. Though perhaps, I’m on the right lines after all.

“So, ahem! As to your question, Yu-chin, I’m not particularly fond of girls. Gender is one of the most meaningless concepts to me. Once I decide I like someone, that’s it. I don’t give a crap about gender standards, yeah?!” Her mouth wiggled with a wink.

“...Uhh? Err... It’s not clicking with me. There is a sense in which gender influences how significantly you like someone, right? How will you know you like them that way if you don’t even consider their gender?” It’s weird. The more I try to look for discernible ways out of my quandaries, the more it knocks me for six.

Sure, I realized you could like someone no matter what their gender is, so this wasn’t supposed to be so daunting for me to get to the bottom of this. Funny enough, I failed to factor in a scenario in which one would like a friend of the same gender, and one would have to draw a line for distinct sorts of likes.

And what’s even more absurd is that I never imagined myself to be in this situation! Guuhh! It was easy for me to answer Kyashii’s questions back then, but now that I’m in the same predicament, I don’t understand anything at all!

Haaah... That’s easier said than done, isn’t it?


True to form, romantic stuff is the bane of my very existence! What the... I’m merely fascinated by how people handle anything related to romantic relationships, but I didn’t sign myself up for this!

“Pssh! Yu-chin, people’s characters have always lured me. Who cares if they’re a boy or girl, as long as they sparkle in my eyes — bam! That’s it!”

Uhh? Tomoka’s way of thinking about liking someone is not something I grasp entirely, but I’d say that’s ten to one.

“Uh-huh? I see... I think that’s remarkable, Tomoka.” I smiled without making myself sound detached. Perhaps she won’t be the best person to talk with about my concern.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty amazing to learn about this side of Tomoka. Who would have guessed she had it in her? Pfft!

“Riigghhtt...? There’s nothing I take greater pride in than how skilled I am at choosing someone I like, yeah?”

“You just whined earlier about how your heart is awful at giving directions, though.” I quipped.

“That’s the point, Yu-chin! I’m extremely good at it because I make sure all those I like will never be mine!” Tomoka smacked her fist down on her palm. “It’s pretty incredible, yeah?!” Her laughter sounded playful and childlike.

But… Why do I get the impression that there’s a tinge of bitterness in there?

“What was that?” I tried to suppress a chuckle. “Hmm? Tomoka, it’s okay if you don’t want to say anything, but do you have feelings for someone, but they can’t just return them?” Empathy filled my voice.

“Mmm! I do, Yu-chin! I’ve already given up on it, though. While I still have feelings for them, I understand that winning them over is obviously a pipe dream. They don’t even realize how much I like them.” Although Tomoka’s lips are all smiles, her eyes give language to sadness.

Hmm... You don’t see her with that expression very often.

She must have felt deeply for that person. “Hmm. Is there anything stopping you from confessing to that someone, Tomoka? You’ll never know what the store has for you until you get that off your chest.”

“Pffh!” An inconspicuous laugh slipped through Tomoka. “There’s no need for that, Yu-chin. It’s already sticking out like a sore thumb that they don’t share my feelings. I don’t stand a chance, wee!” She made a wink. “Besides, the reality that they won’t like me back won’t change even if I tell them, will it? It’s pointless, so why bother?”


“But... Don’t you think keeping it to yourself will make you regret it someday? You won’t have to wonder what might have happened otherwise if you tell them. In the same vein, it could also ease your emotional load. You realize a confession does not always yield positive results, right?” Somehow, I think what I’m saying here is fair and square.

“Gee! Are you sure that’s you, Yu-chin?! You sound so out of place when you talk like that! Ohoho!” She flashed a toothy grin.

“Tch! Well... I’m sorry that I’m out of the loop for this, then.” I pouted.

“Nuh-uh! But Yu-chin... perhaps what you said reflects many people’s views. But I approach the matter from an entirely distinct angle. Knowing it’s been set in stone means I don’t have to confess. I’ve trained myself to imagine that the person I like is already married, so I can’t go after them. It’s a pretty nifty brain trick, yeah?” Tomoka gestured with two thumbs up. “Plus, I don’t think it’s fair for them to deal with my unrequited feelings, either. It will only make them feel bad they can’t like me back. I wouldn’t want to put this person through the discomfort of constantly feeling guilty. You see, they’re a bit lily-white for something like this. So... Yup... Forget it.”

Ooh... talk about some profound thinking! There may be some things I disagree with in what she said there, yet I have to respect that. Her conviction in the matter is admirable, nonetheless.

“Just now, I wanted to confirm if you are indeed Tomoka as well.” I had known her for a while but hadn’t encountered this side of her. It feels a bit strange.

“Hm-hm! Yu-chin, I may not look like it, but I know when to back off and remind myself that there’s no hope for me with them. The futility of trying to make someone like me if they already don’t is pretty clear, yeah??” She fluttered an eyelid over again.

It’s incredible...

Yet somehow, what she said also made me heartsore.

Yeah... I feel bad for Tomoka. Regardless of her best efforts to sound upbeat while holding a smile on her lips, I can’t help but pick up a tinge of sadness in her voice and eyes.

“. . . . .”

It’s a paradox, but I say Tomoka has her heart in the right place.


Reflecting on it, I realized how much I was missing out on my friends simply because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to their interests. It makes me wonder if they wanted to discuss this kind of stuff with me all along but decided that I wouldn’t show much enthusiasm in whatever they had to say.

That could be the case, right?

My enthusiasm wanes quickly when the topic shifts to romantic themes. Every time my ears catch it, with the exception of Kyashii’s goings-on, my face shows signs of apathy almost immediately. I’m not keen to learn about their romantic interests as I am with Kyashii.

“I wish everyone had the same good fortune as Mikami-san. Tch! She sure is one lucky girl. Good looks, skillfulness, plus the one she likes is equally attracted to her.” Tomoka pouted. “She might be one of the goddesses’ favorites, don’t you think so, Yu-chin?”


“Hold on... Kyashii’s crush l-likes her back?! Where did you learn that, Tomoka?? Are you friends with that girl??” The questions flitted out of my mouth simultaneously.

Why am I always the last to know something about Kyashii’s crush?!

“Oh yeah, I am, Yu-chin~! Why don’t you ask Mikami-san if the one she likes feels the same way about her? She’s most likely aware of it... Right, Mikami-san~?” Tomoka is beaming when she turns her eyes toward my back.


I swiftly turned around and saw Kyashii staring silently at us cross-armed, her head leaning on my balcony door. “Eer! A-ha-ha! No... Please don’t mind my questions, Kyashii. You don’t have to answer it. A-ha-ha!” I know she won’t tell me anything yet. It was already clear to me she would talk about that person when it was comfortable for her.

“Yoossh! There is no better time than now to join those two in watching that horror series!” Tomoka dashed down the stairs.

“. . . . .”


“Yes!?” A flinch raced up my spine before I flickered my eyes back to Kyashii. “W-What is it?”

“Umm... That conversation you had with Mizuno-san earlier...”

“Ah... W-Which one?”

Her solemn eyes rested on me for a full count of five seconds. “No... Never mind…” Kyashii plumped herself on my bed and started applying cream to her knees. “Maybe another time.”


Although I wondered what she meant, my eyes couldn’t resist admiring Kyashii’s beauty in its natural state. It was my first time seeing her wearing a bathrobe with her hair damp.

It doesn’t matter how she looks; she’s still stunning, isn’t she?

What a beauty…

“W-What are y-you staring at? Y-You’re making me feel self-conscious!” Kyashii crossed her arms over her chest and scowled at me as she quickly tucked her legs under her.



“. . . . . . .”

I swiveled my gaze away from her. “N-Nothing! Uhh... I think my body needs to get in the shower now.” Aghh! I suddenly get butterflies in my stomach!

“Oh... Alright, g-go ahead.” She mumbled.

“Ah... You can join them downstairs. They’re watching a horror show, after all.” I trotted quickly to the door, clutching my clothes to my chest.

“Yeah. I’ll be there once I put on my pajamas.”

“Uhh...” I took a step back and glanced at her with some hesitation.

“What...” Kyashii arched her brow at me.

“Err... Perhaps you need to be more careful and mindful of yourself when in someone else’s house, Kyashii.” I said under my breath.

“Eh?! W-Why? D-Did I do something, Yuyo?” Her face was etched with worry.

Ahuh, you kissed me! I think that is something, yes??


It would be nice if I could say that loudly, though. “No. Not really... Uhm...” How should I put this? “...Ah! Right! Kyashii, I appreciate how thoroughly you considered my preference.”

“Huh?? What preference?”

I cleared my throat before flashing what I like to think was an innocent smile. “Err... I mean, y-you’re wearing lilac p-panties tonight, right?” I motioned with my finger down there. “Since you’re not particularly fond of the lilac color, I’m guessing you bought it along with the bra before.” I then pursed my lips to ward off any more unnecessary remarks.


In the wink of an eye, I caught sight of Kyashii’s face erupting with intense rosiness as she frantically slid her hands between her legs.

“Mmmmph!!” I could hear her whimpering in embarrassment.


“I always thought you looked better in flashy underwear, though. Oh! But lilac looks great on you, too, Kyashii-chan.” I made a passing comment before I stepped out of my room.

“Yuyo, you jeerrrrkkk! Dummyyy! Kyaaaaahhh! Oh my gooossshh!” After what seemed like an eternity, I finally heard Kyashii’s roar.


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