Chapter 16:

Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

“Because I love you.”

Having just confessed my love to her, Ayane stood face to face with me as she didn’t move a muscle, unable to process what I said. Frankly, I didn’t know how to react to this. I could only stand still, trying to keep my eyes on her, no matter the difficulty. Eventually, though, her face reacted bright red as she dashed back to her seat.

Now having the capacity to respond to me, she put both of her hands on her face, covering any visible facial features. It was the only means she had of replying.

“What… brought you… to confess… n- n- now?”

I stood up and passionately waved my arms around as I yelled at her.

“Because I love the version of you who obsesses with novels, cooks the most delicious meals on the planet, and feels free talking back to me! You must want to show that version of yourself to the world, otherwise, you wouldn’t have joined the drama club! I’m trying to give you an opportunity to show the world who you are.”

Finishing my embarrassing monologue, I took several deep breaths, leaving Ayane open to respond. Taking this opportunity, Ayane stood up and tried to match my volume.

“I’m nothing special though! Why do you feel so much better about me than I do about myself?”

She couldn’t keep that intensity going into that second sentence. Going from screaming to almost mute, she needed a wake-up call. I, willing to give one, brought the energy back when I held onto her shoulders and yelled at her.

“Because you opened up to me!”

Ayane went silent after this. It became hard to speak after talking so loudly; I kept breathing rapidly. In order to stop the flow, though, I took a deep breath and continued making my point.

“It must pain you… to hide yourself in school, so please, sing for me. I won’t judge you if you’re bad. I’ll love it anyway… because I love everything about you.”

Ayane still stared blankly at me, but not in a lifeless way. Her face, still red, made it obvious that she was just embarrassed. Seeing her expression made me question if I pushed her too hard until I realized that was exactly what I tried to do anyway. I simply had to await her answer. It wouldn’t take much longer, when, moving her head to the side, puffing up her cheeks, Ayane finally brought herself to respond.

“Fine… I’ll sing for you…”

That response was adorable!

Sitting back down with my heart finally beating at a stable pace, I asked her a question.

“What song do you want to sing?”

“Remember that light novel I told you about? Well, I want to put on the opening to the anime adaptation.”

“I believe I’ve heard it before. I’ll look for it.”

Once I found it, the music began to play. It started as an instrumental, so Ayane had time to prepare. It got harder for her to stay still as the first verse edged closer and closer. Her legs twitching and both her hands gripping hard onto the microphone, I could tell she had cold feet. It was cute, but I tried to keep a straight face. I simply waited for the singing to start.

I came in with no expectations. I figured I’d enjoy it since I already found her voice cute, but just because my opinion would be positive, it didn’t mean that it would be that way for everyone. I had to put on my critic goggles, a skill which I’d never truly dabbled in beforehand.

I couldn’t do that, though, as she began to sing. Even though she got her first note wrong and she sometimes couldn’t stay on time, it didn’t matter to me at all. The whole time, I stared right at her. Her eyes closed, didn’t want to see my judgment. It could’ve also been because she couldn’t bring herself to hold back. She sang each note with a level of intensity I hadn’t seen up close. It was clear to me that she enjoyed the art of singing thoroughly.

As she made it to the end of the final chorus and her eyes finally opened, I knew for a fact that this was true. I knew that she hid her talents from me, but I never knew what beauty awaited me. Hearing her sing was truly an honor.

When it was over, a massive smile stuck on my face.

“That was amazing!” I told her, as I jumped out of my chair.

She didn’t anticipate my reaction, so her hands slipped, causing the mic to drop to the floor. Clearly, this left her embarrassed given how quickly she picked it back up again, only for the mic to continue shaking in her hands. Her face, now completely red, was one she couldn’t even hide, letting me pay extra attention to her closed eyes and mouth. When she finally got over what had happened, she had one question to ask.

“Are you sure?”

“I’ve never been more sure in my life! I loved it!”

I stood up to say that. Granted, my enthusiasm didn’t seem to calm her down at all, as she stood still the same way as before.

Despite this, she said, “Th- thank you…” as she looked at the floor.

“Man, I could hear you sing forever.”

As you could see from that sentence, this reassurance made me lose all my sense of shame as I continued to compliment her. She, of course, didn’t know how to take this.


At least she was back to looking at me, but I think she regretted that decision as I complimented her once more.

“I so badly want to hear you sing again.”

“This is what happened last time too!”

In a rare case, she raised her voice to say that. She even leaned forward to project herself better, although she apparently couldn’t keep her eyes open as she did it. This, likely, was because she was, once again, embarrassed.

Having said this, she looked down and whispered to me.

“Am I really that impressive to you?”

“Well, it’s not like I have a reason to lie.”

Once again, my shamelessness took over. Granted, I eventually realized how embarrassing this exchange was when Ayane didn’t have a response to me and my face went red. Thankfully then, she shifted the topic, likely because of that.

“Well, you heard me sing. Now I want to hear your singing voice.”

“Really? You’ll be sorely disappointed.”

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to say this confidently, putting my hand on the back of my neck, not saying what I said with the rigor I had hoped.

Ayane, however, snapped me back to reality.

“Does it look like I care?”

“I guess not.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle as I said that. I realized that I didn’t need to feel this unease with her. With Ayane by my side, I could be myself. As such, I took a deep breath, before finally speaking again.

“Fine. I’ll return the favor.”

Having set this out, I tried looking for one of the anime opening themes that I liked as a kid. It wasn’t that hard, so eventually, I found something.

When prompted to sing, I couldn’t get most of the notes out. I knew I had a deep voice, but it genuinely baffled me how little I could hit. Not only that but staying on time was hard too. Hell, I even struggled to remember the lyrics sometimes. Regardless, it wasn’t like I came here to show off. I had already achieved my goal, so when I finished, I had no regrets.

Well uh… maybe not, as Ayane burst out laughing as loudly as she could. She even started crying and laughing. It was this uncanny mixture of joy and suffering, happy that she could find comedy in something, but also pity for me being the butt of the joke.

What she would say next, though, came to my surprise more than anything else as she gave me a smile.

“I loved hearing that. Thank you.”


“Don’t get me wrong, your singing was bad, but I couldn’t help but enjoy it.”

For some reason, she said that bashfully, holding her hands together as she turned her head to the side. Despite this act being adorable though, I was too focused on something else to acknowledge it.

“Please don’t elaborate. My masculinity can’t take any more punishment.”

She laughed at this again.

“Well, it looks like it’s my turn to sing again.”

As such, that’s what we did for the next hour. Not for a second was I bored. Eventually, though, we were alarmed that our time had come to an end.

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