Chapter 17:

Be Yourself, Ayane-chan! II

Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

Now, being forced into the cold, evening air, the weather somehow seemed even more loathsome than usual. At the very least, though, the strong winds of before stopped bothering us. Despite this, the temperature remaining low didn’t do my sanity any favors. Well, that and my empty stomach.

“Dammit, we didn’t get any food while we were there.”

It said a lot that I’d blurt that out despite it causing the exhausting ordeal of what we call a conversation to start. Regardless, Ayane had a response to it.

“Don’t worry. My house is nearby.”

Hearing this made me smile while moving my posture higher up.

“Thank god. I can have more of your cooking.”

However, Ayane didn’t respond in the same way. She instead tried to hide her face.

“Well, my mom’s a better cook than me.”

“You think that matters to me? You’re my girlfriend, so of course your cooking will mean the most to me.”

Even though Ayane’s hands were through her face, I could see her smile despite that. Eventually, she felt comfortable enough to show herself again, only to walk in front of me and turn toward me.

“Thank you for helping me.”

“Well, that came out of nowhere.”

“What else was I supposed to say then!?”

She flailed her arms around while saying that. It made me laugh.

“I dunno. I think you’re just as bad at socializing as I am.”

Instead of continuing with the banter, though, Ayane instead took a deep breath before speaking again.

“Just, thanks for letting me accept myself.”

“What do you mean?”

I had no choice but to ask this. My curiosity somehow took over. Thankfully, she answered but had to look at the floor to do so.

“I mean that I didn’t have confidence in my acting, singing, cooking, or social skills. I guess I’m just trying to thank you for sticking by me.”

I put my hand on her shoulder.

“Anyone who wouldn’t stick by you is an idiot.”

“I don’t think the people who insulted my acting in middle school quite qualify.”

“What’s it about them then?”

“Well, I’ve always loved the drama club. I may not have had any real friends, but acting and singing were my ways of expressing myself. It was how I showed the world who I was.”

“What happened to make you stop then?”

“Well, when I ended up getting the leading role for the school festival play, I messed it up. I got nervous, and no one in the drama club ever treated me the same for it. I wanted to believe that theatre would be my escape, but it ended up being just another hell. I never got the courage to act again. In high school, I’d take all the tech gigs to separate myself from the spotlight. I couldn’t quite quit the club, though.”

“It’s because you love theatre, right?”

“It was.”

It must have been a lot for Ayane to finally let that all out to someone. All of that pent-up anger and resentment that she had for years. She couldn’t even tell anyone about it. I finally got the whole picture, though, when I looked at her face. She cried silent, lonely tears. I didn’t want her to be alone, though, so I gave her a massive hug.

“Thank you Yuuki-kun. I- I- I’ll be auditioning for the play!”

“I’m glad.”

We continued to hold onto each other. I wanted all of her tears to flow from her eyes. It didn’t matter how long it would take. Even if she finished, I’d keep holding onto her. Her body, small and slender, felt like it could break with enough force, but I also couldn’t hug her softly if I wanted to communicate my love. As such, we stayed like this for a while.

Eventually, though, we began to walk again. I could tell it would take more time to make it to her house, but I had nothing left to say. It wasn’t like I enjoyed conversing anyway, but I probably only felt that way to cope with the reality that I genuinely sucked at socializing. I guess, in that case, I should’ve been thankful that Ayane had something to tell me.

“Remember when you asked me why I accepted your confession?”

“Not until you reminded me.”

“In that case, I guess you don’t care what the answer is.”

“Not particularly, but I’ll take any opportunity to hear your voice.”

Of course, Ayane’s face went red after I told her that.

“Stop saying stuff like that.”

She said it quietly, of course, but I could still hear it well enough to find a witty comeback.

“Interesting. I thought you went through your character arc already.”

“That’s not how people work, okay!”

“Sorry, I haven’t gone outside enough to know that.”

“Using self-depreciation in your comeback makes me regret dating you.”

“I didn’t think something like that could’ve been said by someone who can’t even make eye contact with me.”

“I’m trying my best, okay!”

“Just like how I’m trying my best to go outside.”

Neither of us had anything to say after that. We soon burst out laughing. When I gained my composure, too, I couldn’t help but comment on it.

“God damn, that argument was dumb.”


Instead of letting the conversation die there, though, I knew where it needed to go next. I had to speak up.

“Seriously though, I want you to answer my question. Why did you start dating me?”

Ayane stopped walking when I queried. I suppose she needed to in order to answer it. Regardless, she did.

“I started dating you because you seemed genuine. Everyone else who’s asked me out has been so vague about it. It always annoys me how people dance around the truth of their feelings. I didn’t see that in you, though. It seems like you mean whatever you say. I mean, I’ve never seen anyone else who was so direct with me. I liked that a lot.”

“It’s weird to think that I was the only guy like that. I guess that doesn’t matter, though. I’m glad you gave me a chance.”

“I am too,” she said as she wrapped her arms through mine.

We set off again to do this. This magical moment, however, couldn’t last, though, as I heard someone burst out of a door nearby.

“Ayane-chan?” I heard a voice loudly asking.

“Who is this?” I whispered in Ayane's ear.

“She’s my mom…” she mumbled while trying to hide in my arms.

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