Chapter 11:


Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

“Satoshi-kun, is that you?”

When he heard me speak, he jumped a little. He hesitated to face my way, and ultimately couldn’t do it.

“Yuuki-kun, why are you here?”

“I’m on a date with Ayane-chan.”

“No wonder. I doubt you would go here on your own.”

“So, why are you here then?”

With my second question asked, Satoshi began frantically tapping one of his fingers.

“I just wanted to read.”

“Here seems like a good place then.”

“That’s because it is.”

I had nothing left to say, gulping before I just kinda spat some bullshit.

“I’m just shocked that you of all people would like a quiet place like this one.”

“It’s not like I go here often. There was just a book that grabbed my interest.”

“Understandable. This place does have a decent catalog of manga.”

Surprisingly, Satoshi’s movements only got stronger as I said this, with him tapping his feet as well.

“Oh, it does?”

“I mean, we’re in the manga section.”

“I didn’t know.”

Satoshi used this as an opportunity to walk away from me, but I grabbed his hand. I wouldn’t let him escape until he answered my next question.

“Then what is that book in your hand?”

“It’s nothing special…” he mumbled.

“Just say it’s a manga, okay.”

“Please don’t tell anyone about this… alright.”

“You think I’d care to even do that?”

“I guess you have a point, but you still need to tell me you’d promise it.”

“Alright fine, I promise. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with being an otaku anyway.”

Satoshi slapped my arm to escape from me.

“I’m not an otaku, dammit!”

“Oh, okay.”

With him having yelled that in the library, he ended up covering his face when he realized what happened.

“I gotta go now, Yuuki-kun.”

As he walked away, I stood there speechless. I didn’t know how to process what just happened. However, what I did know was that I continued to further bury another friendship.

Why did I care now though?

I never cared about anyone or anything beforehand. I shouldn’t have dwelled on it, though. This matter honestly had nothing to do with me. I did nothing wrong here. Right?

Sitting in these delusions, I sat back down on the table I sat on previously. This time, though, instead of reading the light novel, I waited for Ayane to sit next to me. I felt too consumed by my own thoughts, unable to gauge how I felt, tapping my foot in an annoyed fit. This feeling lasted until Ayane finally showed herself to the table.

“Are you enjoying it?” she asked.

While I was gonna answer with anything but, a non-answer meant to avoid the question, my stomach did that for me.

“It seems like you’re hungry,” she said.

“Well, it has gotten quite late at this point.”

“Want to go to the nearest of our homes then?”

God damn. For a girl this shy, she had some serious balls. I knew I had to say something equally stupid.

“Sure. My home isn’t too far from here.”

“Let’s eat there then. I just have to call my parents and let them know.”

“Let’s hope they say yes then.”

Once again, I saw Ayane’s smile. I didn’t know how to take this, but I’ve said that so much at this point that it felt redundant to say it again. While she spent her time contacting her parents, I decided to check out the light novel Ayane recommended to me.

Having walked to the front of the library, I tried to get the attention of the librarian with the wave of my hand, although I should’ve known this would be ineffective. Thankfully then, I remembered I could just speak to her.

“Hey, I’m here to check out this light novel.”

She still didn’t say anything, so I put the light novel on the desk she sat at.

“Oh, you’re here to check something out?” she asked me.


I didn’t want to bother making small talk with someone who clearly seemed as uninterested in starting a dialogue as me, so I didn’t say anything. I just waited to get my book and go outside.

Here, I noticed Ayane. I guess she found an opportunity to come outside. It wasn’t like that was difficult, after all. As she tapped the buttons on her phone, I caught a glimpse of her conversation.

“Yes… I’ll be having dinner with a friend… What do you mean if I don’t come back?... In that case, you can assume I’m at his house… Yes, he is my boyfriend… Could you stop prying into my life?...”

Once the phone call ended, we found it even colder than before, yet I still felt the need to ask her something, despite my body fighting at its limit as we walked back home.

“I’d never expect you to act like that.”

“Huh… oh, my parents can annoy me sometimes.”

Instead of giving the same old embarrassed expression she always had, she instead expressed it in a different way, smiling while she rested her onto her arm. I couldn’t get caught up in the surprise of it, though, as it barely even registered to me at the time.

“I wish I could say the same thing about my parents.”

Tilting her head, she asked, “Why is that?”

I sighed and hunched over before saying, “It’s complicated at home.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean they’re never home.”

“Why is that?”

I couldn’t react properly to these questions. With me now hiding my hands in my pockets and looking away from the target of my conversation, having to be reminded of my life at home just…

“Well, my dad works all the time, and mom’s…”


I couldn’t take it anymore, yelling at the top of my lungs with my response.

“You said you didn’t want your mom to pry into your life, so why the hell are you asking me this crap!”

Ayane guarded herself, hiding her face and body with her hands, shaking in the process.

Seeing the state I put her in, the tension in my lungs decayed. Taking a deep breath, I hid my hands away.

“I-I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine…” she said as she held her hands close to her skirt.

While still clearly taken aback, she tried to relax herself a bit.

While normally, I’d see an apology as an abandonment of pride, I just couldn’t bring myself to hurt her in any way. The guilt I felt from this extended to my face. I couldn’t show her my face. Even in this weather, I could still feel the heat of it. She didn’t need to see my face, though. She understood how I felt, as she held my hand.

When I took the opportunity to look at her, she turned her face away from me. Instead of fear motivating this, she was back to the same embarrassment she always felt. Granted, holding my hand took an amount of confidence that I didn’t even have, so the sound of her voice continued to bewilder me.

“I don’t know what you’re going through. You don’t even have to tell me. I… just want you to know that you have me.”

All I could muster to her though was a soft, “Thank you,” as we arrived at my house.

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