Chapter 22:

Be Yourself, Yuuki-kun!

Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

Despite the assurance that I’d get to talk to her again, my walk home still felt so lonely. My back hunched over and my hands in my pockets, I tried so hard to forget about the weather. Well, and also about what I even walked for.

What happened to my life?

Reflecting while the wind tried its hardest to prevent me from doing so, I remembered my old camping trip. That’s when Ayane became my girlfriend. Back then, I was an asshole. There’s no other way around that. I only saw Ayane as someone I had to date. She was the perfect target with her vulnerability, but now that I’m dating her, I’ve realized just how wrong I was. The vulnerable one was me. I just didn’t know it.

How the hell did I get a kiss out of a pathetic speech like that?

I didn’t get it. What I did get though was that I couldn’t act the way I had before. Now, I want to see people as exactly that. People. I wanted to apologize to Ayane for not seeing her as a person, Satou for the constant shit talk, and Satoshi for making him feel so lonely. I didn’t see the point in maintaining these relationships because I thought they’d just fall apart, but now I didn’t want them to.

So, thank you, Ayane. I finally understood why relationships were so important, and now, I’d be seeing the man who prevented me from realizing that for so long.

My dad.

Entering my house, it looked just as it always did. It wasn’t immediately obvious where he was at first glance, so I asked outright.


“You’re finally back, Yuuki-kun.”

Moving my eyes to the kotatsu, I finally found him.

He looked like a corpse.

“How long has it been, Yuuki-kun?”

Despite only being in his 40s, his age showed more than I’d ever seen. Wrinkles corned his frail, near-skeletal body. If I knew one thing, it was that I didn’t want to end up like him.


“Yes, Dad.”

“I’m glad you can hear me.”

I didn’t have any words for him. I wanted him out of my sight.

I walked toward my room only to hear him speak up.

“Are you giving me the cold shoulder?”

I didn’t want the conversation to devolve into an argument, so I just stood still.

“Yuuki-kun, please answer me.”

“Fine! I’m giving you the cold shoulder!”

I started to breathe heavily. The emotions I hid were finally unleashed. All the anger, sadness, and fear seeped out of me.

My father, seeing my distressed face, looked down.

“Thank god you can hear me.”


“I really missed you, Yuuki-kun.”

Hearing this, I started to laugh as I spoke.

“You know actions speak louder than words, right?”

Dad didn’t say anything. His inability to fight back pissed me off, with the veins in my arms being more pronounced, therefore causing him to lose sight of me even more.

Putting his hand on his neck, my dad finally said something.

“I’m sorry, Yuuki-kun. It may be selfish of me, but I want to catch up with you.”

I struggled to move my feet back to the living room.

“You can keep standing there if you want to,” he told me.

I couldn’t say anything.

“How’s school been?” he asked.

Hearing this question, I figured I’d turn in his direction.

“Same old,” I responded.

“Yeah, you never seemed to like it.”

“It’s not like I hate school, though.”

Silence filled the room, following my answer. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Dad, I can’t do this.”

I opened the door to my room, only for my dad to stand up.

“I- I- I know I’m bad at talking to you, but I still love you! There’s so much I want to ask you! So please, for the sake of your old man, will you just talk to me!”

“I… don’t think I can,” I mumbled.

I then closed the door to my room. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him. He kept on saying he loved me, but how could I know that for sure?

How could I call him my dad when I rarely ever spoke to him?

I wanted to stay in my silence, wrapped under the blankets of my bed, but then I heard a knock on my door.

“Yuuki-kun, you dropped your phone.”

“Fine, come in!”

With my access granted, he slowly and quietly opened the door to my room, questioning something when he came in.

“Who’s this girl on your phone wallpaper?”

“Huh? Oh, she’s my girlfriend.”

“I’m glad you found someone.”

I saw a soft smile on his face. It’s like he finally found something to be happy about.

“Yeah, I’m glad I found her too.”

I tried to hide my face, but that didn’t deter my father.

“That might be the first time I’ve seen you smile, Yuuki-kun.”

I looked back at him to finally give him my full eye contact as he continued to speak.

“Maybe I just don’t know you much, but whenever I see you, you never seem happy at all.”

I knew he was right, but my pride wouldn’t allow me to admit to it. As such, I just stood there, staring blankly at him, unable to speak as my heart rate began to increase again.

My father wanted to continue speaking, though, so he asked another question.

“Is she that special to you?”

“She is.”

I answered it in a heartbeat, standing tall to let him know how serious I was. He smiled seeing what I had to say. Him? Smiling at a working relationship?

Any and all preconceptions I had, though, would be crushed as I heard him speak.

“I’m glad you have her. I know what happened to Mom sucks, but you don’t have to end up like me. You should keep this relationship, Yuuki-kun.”

I didn’t know what to say. I felt the brunt of thousands of thoughts popping up into my head, but I couldn’t speak a single one of them. That’s why he just kept on talking.

“Hey, I’m sorry, Yuuki-kun. I'm so sorry about everything. To this day I still haven’t gotten over your mom’s death. I keep working to forget the pain, but I forgot about you in the process. I’m so sorry.”

He cried so hard that I could barely get a grip on half his words. That didn’t matter to me, though. I knew the importance of his words, and that’s all that mattered. Now I finally knew how Ayane felt when I cried to her. We weren’t being weak. We were being genuine. As such, I did the only thing I could.

I hugged him and comforted him.

“I haven’t gotten over her either. We’re in this together.”

We sat in this pose for a while. I simply waited for him to finish crying before I said anything else. No, before he could say anything else. Eventually, even though it took time, that did happen.

“It must be tough living on your own, Yuuki-kun.”

“It was, but I think speaking to Ayane-chan has helped me a lot.”

“You can live with her if you want.”

“I’m guessing she doesn’t want to live with me. It’d be a pretty big leap for us.”

“At least consider it.”

After this exchange, I let go of my hug. I needed to in order to finally get my words across to him. Putting my hands on my knees, I took a deep breath before I spoke.

“I want to apologize to you too, Dad. I had this idea in my head that you were some neglectful monster, when you’re just as scared and lost as me.”

Finally, he touched me. My shoulder had his hand on it. After so long of him refusing to make contact with me, he finally did before his response.

“You don’t need to apologize to me. I know what I’m doing is wrong. I had one goal, to prepare my son for the future, and I couldn’t even do that.”

“Well, if you weren’t working so hard, we wouldn't have this house.”

“You know that’s the bare minimum, right?”

“I know, but I can appreciate your intentions.”

He simply smiled as I leaned my body toward his, leading him to his next statement.

“Hey, if you ever want to talk to me, please do. You can call me any time, and I’ll make time for it, even through work.”

“Thanks. I’ll consider that option for the future,” I said with a smile.

Suddenly though, my phone’s ringtone began to play, reminding me that I should change it to Ayane’s singing voice one day. Speaking of Ayane, she was the one calling. I suppose we did agree to call at this time, so I answered it.

“Ayane-chan, can I move into your house?”


“Please, I need an answer.”

“I’d love you to.”

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