Chapter 42:

Like a Princess


Yuri and Romeo walk some distance away from the rest, near the back of the crumbled building where they stop under a big tree with colorful autumn leaves. They stand face to face, with a good few feet of distance between them.

Romeo looks at her, feeling his nerves get the better of him as time passes. He mostly feels disappointed in himself.

... After all this time… everything I did was for nothing. I didn’t change, and she saw me at my worst, too. I have no right to even talk to her at all...

“Back in there,” Yuri finally speaks, moving some hair behind her ear as the wind gently blows. “I wasn’t sure what was happening for a while. It was scary, and… I didn’t think I could get out of there on my own...”


“And then, when you opened the door, I saw you.”


“I saw you fight, with your fists and your bat, and I realized that… you were hiding that side of you from me since we met.”


“That day in the alley… That bat you were using… it was yours, wasn’t it? It’s the same one you used today…”

“Yuri, I—”

“—You’re a delinquent, aren’t you?”

Romeo holds his breath, looking at her.

He feels trapped and caught; his lips tremble as he struggles to find his next words. He knows whatever he says next could mark the end forever.

To his surprise, Yuri looks down and continues, twiddling her thumbs.

“It… must have been hard, hiding such a big part of your life…”

… Huh?

Yuri takes a deep breath, shutting her eyes tight.

“The truth is I… I like you, Romeo!”

Yuri confesses suddenly, and Romeo looks at her with his eyes wide open, unable to believe what he just heard. Yuri’s face turns completely red, and she starts waving her hands in front of herself as her voice breaks.

“B-But today, I realized I don’t know anything about you, and it doesn’t seem fair to force my feelings on you like this!”

Yuri begins rambling in complete panic.

“M-My friend Nana told me most boys only want one thing, s-so I thought if you were one of those boys, I should never go out with you! B-But! I don’t even know if you like me, or if you would even go out with me— ah! N-not that I was considering it! S-She just b-brought it up so I simply answered! But it doesn’t mean I’m not interested— I, I mean! I want to! I want to go out with you! B-But I think I want to get to know you first!”

She starts taking in deep breaths as soon as she’s done; her face looking like it's about to explode.

Romeo looks at her without moving, shocked to his core, mouth agape, and eyes wide. He hears every word, but each one of them is more surreal than the last, and it’s taking him a moment to get this all through his brain.

Yuri, increasingly unsettled by his lack of reaction, immediately begins to feel self-conscious. She covers her face with her hands and speaks in a muffled voice.

“P-Please… say something…”

Romeo closes his mouth and blinks.

It slowly dawns on him that not knowing each other could be a two-way street. He knows, more than anyone else, that what she just did— opening up to someone about her feelings with such fervent honesty— could not have been easy in the least. Maybe the way she did it was a little frantic, but… it was worth admiring.

Above all, seeing her react so cutely like that… truly cemented one thing in his mind. Despite Endo bringing them to question, his feelings for her were definitely real.

There’s still a chance she won’t like me once she gets to know the real me, he thinks, but strangely enough, the thought of that now isn’t as frightful as he thought it’d be.

Between being hated for being yourself or being liked for pretending to be someone you’re not, Romeo knows exactly which he’d choose.

And he chooses wrongly to begin with.

So, he has to start by learning how to be honest, too.

Slowly, Romeo takes a few steps forward. The sound of the crunching leaves under his shoes makes Yuri gently lower her hands from her face. When she looks up, it startles her to see that Romeo is right in front of her, looking at her with determination. Yet, a slight blush dyes his cheeks.

There’s also a hint of nervousness in his voice as he struggles to match her courage in baring his feelings out in the open.

“I… I want to get to know you, too.”

Yuri gasps, covering her mouth with her hands.

“And for that,” he continues, “I gotta tell you about my three-word nickname.”


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