Chapter 6:

Definitely Not a Progress

We are Supposed to be the Side Characters

Even when we sit together on the train, Noa remains silent. She averts her face as if she doesn't want me to see her, sitting right next to me.

Involuntarily, this silence makes me worried.

If I were to stand up right now, would she think I'm trying to get a chance to see her face from the front? Ugh, what's wrong with me? Why would I even think that?

Just focus on the train ride, Kai. There's nothing to see here.

But I can't help but sneak a glance at Noa from the corner of my eye. Her eyes are cast down, her expression unreadable. Her silhouette is bathed in the warm, gentle light, creating an ethereal beauty that captures my attention. I've known Noa for a long time, and yet, I never really paid attention to these details before. It's like the setting sun has unveiled a whole new side of her that I've never noticed until now. A side that's so captivating, it's almost mesmerizing.

Even from this side, I could see the quivering of Noa's lips, a sign that she was holding back tears.

"I almost hated him," Noa suddenly confessed, catching on to the fact that I'd been observing her all this time.

"...I went through so much trouble to come here, picking the perfect outfit and borrowing my aunt's perfume... and he just abandoned our plans like it was nothing... he even made you and Miya wait for me at the station," she continued.

"...but i didn’t think about his situation at all," a single tear trickled down her cheek, visible from my vantage point.

She was angry with herself… Actually, what would the protagonist of some cheesy romance novel say to their heroine in a situation like this…? I’m out of words.

"You-- you did great, though," I offered, attempting to sound like one of those heroic types. WHAT THE HELL AM I TALKING ABOUT?

"You can still meet him again, you know? Maybe next time, exchange phone numbers before parting ways." at least, a rational one.

I can't believe I'm spouting this sappy nonsense. But to my surprise, she seemed to take it to heart. I noticed a faint nod as if she found some reassurance in my words. Well, it wasn't anything special, just common sense, really.

But if it helps her move forward, then I guess it's not a complete waste of breath.

The train rumbled on, carrying with it an air of melancholy. We sat in silence, each lost in our own thoughts. I never thought I'd be caught in a situation like this, playing the role of a supportive friend. Me, the aloof loner who kept everyone at a distance.

Noa finally broke the silence, thanking me for being there to listen. I brushed it off, trying to maintain my usual cool demeanor.

At least she seemed to feel better now. As the train pulled into the station, I knew it was time to check on Miya. Not that I cared or anything. I just didn't want her to think I abandoned her at the city.

As I got up to leave, a strange sense of satisfaction washed over me. Maybe it’s not so terrible date after all. But, I'm not turning into some lovey-dovey protagonist or anything. It's just...I did what I had to do. That's all there is to it.

As we stepped out of the station, we exchanged email addresses.

The details of the conversation leading up to this moment were hazy in my mind. Honestly, it was the first time I ever exchanged emails with a girl.


"Tomorrow, when we visit Nikki's grandmother, you can ask her for Nikki's email," I suggested, breaking the silence.

"Mmhm," she replied, keeping it brief.

Going all the way to the hospital just to ask for an email might seem a bit excessive, but I figured she wouldn't complain if it was for the guy she liked.



"Noa, about what you said earlier... could it be that you don't actually want to go on a date with Nikki?" I blurted out before my thoughts could catch up.

Her face scrunched up. She definitely didn't come all the way here for Nikki.

"Then why...?" I asked.

"I don't know. Because I know you’ll be there?" she replied.

"..why is that?" before I could finish my sentence, she cut me off. "Thanks for today, Kai! See you at school," she said as she walked away.

For some reason, my gaze lingered, unable to break free until she was completely out of sight.