Chapter 5:

Popsicle Bonds

The Sound of Love

After the fourth class, my gaze wandered around the classroom, following the sun rays that penetrated through the windows and danced on the empty desks, while I anxiously looked for Kurokawa.

There were a few things I couldn't talk to her about the day before, and I had planned to talk to her about those today at school. However, to my surprise, she wasn't present, and it caused a tightening sensation in my chest.

"Kurokawa had a photo shoot, so maybe she won't come to class."

Airi revealed, appearing behind me as I stared at Kurokawa's empty chair.

A photoshoot? How could she know that when I didn't even have that information?

"Kurokawa sent me a message this morning and asked me to pass on all the class information to her."

Airi added as if she had read my thoughts.

"Since when do you have that kind of intimacy?"

"Since you mentioned that you were teaching her to play the guitar. I got curious and started asking her various things."

"You're really nosy."

Haru chimed in, interrupting his note-taking.

"By the way, what did you want to know from her?"

Haru was also curious.

"At first, I wanted to know how Yuuji was teaching her..."

"Hey! You don't think I would be capable of teaching her?"

"It's not that... but we know you can be a bit strict sometimes."

I turned my gaze to Haru, waiting for his reaction, and to my surprise, he did seem to agree.

"You guys really think I'm that strict?"

For a moment, the question echoed in my mind, making me wonder if my words and actions were hurting my friends.

"Yes!" they both answered in unison.

"Last Saturday, you were really riding Haru about his timing in the music! It was just a slight off!"

"And there was another time when Airi almost gave up playing the piano because you said her hands were too small."

"It was terrible."

Airi put her hands on her face, her trembling voice hinting at tears. However, something inside me told me that they might be crocodile tears.

Haru rushed to comfort Airi, putting on an incredibly hyperbolic dramatic act.

As I paused to think, I realized that I could be a bit more direct at times, but I never imagined they would think I was so strict.

"I'm sorry, but I hadn't realized..."

A mixture of guilt and concern swirled within me. How could I have been so insensitive to my friends? I knew I could be straightforward, but I never wanted to hurt them.

"Haru, quick! Take Yuuji to the infirmary, he apologized and seems regretful!"

Airi exclaimed playfully.

"Is this really the Yuuji we know?"

Haru said laughing, playing along.

"Kurokawa must be an angel or something to be able to do this to him."

"Why don't you two stop fooling around and finish eating?"

"Look, it seems he's getting back to normal!"

♪ ♫ ♪

After classes, we all walked home together, which was something we hadn't done in a while.

Haru walked in the middle of the three of us, with his arms resting on my shoulder and Airi's. His excitement made him seem like he could skip at any moment.

"Normally, it's just the two of us. Yuuji is always so busy; it's even amazing he makes it to our rehearsals every weekend."

Airi added, removing Haru's arm from her shoulder.

Although I didn't always feel like it, I didn't want to disappoint Haru and Airi, who were always excited and enthusiastic about our rehearsals.

"Even with some commitments, I can't help but come."

As we walked, we passed by a convenience store, and Airi ran ahead, pointing at the store.

"Since we're all here, how about buying some Gari-Gari popsicles?"

She looked at us with her adorable green eyes, and no one could resist her request at that moment.

"It'll be nice to recall the good old times."

Haru said as he walked towards the store.

As soon as we crossed the convenience store's door, we were greeted by the sweet smell of fresh treats and the cool air conditioning that relieved the heat outside. Airi rushed excitedly to the Gari-Gari section, her eyes gleaming with enthusiasm as she examined the various options of colorful and juicy popsicles.

The vibrant packaging displayed tempting flavors, from the traditional soda to the more exotic ones like lemon, watermelon, and green tea. The jingling of coins and the lively chatter of customers created a bustling atmosphere.

It was a familiar scene that evoked memories of the times when we used to stop there on our way home. The cool sensation of the frozen section brought comfort and nostalgia as if time had stopped in that small space where our friendship had shared so many moments together.

"Eh! Why do you always get the soda one, Haru?"

Airi was surprised because he quickly chose without paying much attention to the other flavors available.

"Because it's my favorite. Why choose anything else?"

"You're so boring..."

They started discussing which flavor Airi should try, and I watched with them affectionately. It was funny how they always teased each other, and this brought a sense of comfort.

"Why don't you try the lemon one, Airi?"

She seemed to like my suggestion.

"Then I'll choose one for you too, Yuuji!"

Excited, Airi took a lemon Gari-Gari and another one of watermelon, handing me the latter.

"Good thing there are other people who like to try different things from time to time like you, Yuuji."

Airi looked towards Haru as if expecting some reaction from him.

While we were at the checkout, paying for our popsicles, we were surrounded by the relaxed atmosphere of the store. The friendly cashier greeted us with a warm smile, and the sounds of other customers' lively conversations filled the air.

Haru insisted on paying for the three of us, and we left the store, continuing our walk and chatting about trivial things, like what had happened at school and random gossip.

The time came for us to say goodbye. Airi and Haru went their way together since they were neighbors, and I continued on my path after bidding them farewell.

The warm embrace of our time together still surrounded me, driving away the shadows of my worries. With each step, my mind replayed the moments we shared. The laughter, the jokes, and the special times we had together.

As I finished my Gari-Gari, I felt my phone ringing.

"Hello, Kurokawa? Have you finished your photo shoot?"

"Hello, Tanaka! I just finished a little while ago. How did you know?"

At that moment, I wondered if I should have revealed that I knew the reason for her being busy.

"Airi told me."

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you..."

Kurokawa said with a regretful tone.

"I called you because I wanted to ask you some things. Are you at work now? Are you busy?"

"I'm not busy; I'm on my way home."

"Oh, that's great! The thing is, I was practicing a bit last night and had some doubts. Could you help me?"

"Of course!" I replied, feeling my heart race at the opportunity to spend more time with her.

"Can I come to your house? I'm relatively close."

My heart raced at the news, and an involuntary smile formed on my lips.

"Yes, of course. Let's meet there."

After hanging up the phone, I felt a restlessness within me.

The sun was beginning to set, painting the sky with warm shades of orange and pink as I walked through the bustling streets. The aroma of flowers sweetened the path, bringing a sense of anticipation as I got closer and closer to my home.

It was incredible how she had this effect on me, making me feel more alive and happier than ever. With each encounter, and each exchange of glances, my existence gained a special meaning. Kurokawa, with her unique way, created in me a growing feeling, an unexpected melody for my life, and I couldn't be more grateful for it.

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