Chapter 29:

Be Yourself, Satoshi-kun! II

Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

“We’re going to the drama club.”

Suddenly, Satoshi’s hands fell.

“But why?” he asked.

“I want you to confess to Ayane-chan.”

Satoshi’s eyes widened, but not out of awe or amazement. He instead frowned, looking in horror at my mere suggestion. Eventually, though, he closed his eyes and smiled. Grabbing onto his face with his hand, he opened his eyes, only to laugh.

Starting with the smallest of cackles, it devolved into a frenzied panic. By the point that everyone could hear him, he finally moved away from the fence, but not in the way I’d imagined. Each step taken was a dance of some sort. It’s like he’d accepted this unhinged reaction as the only outcome.

Initially, I couldn’t react to this sight. The more it dawned on me, however, the more my face began to contort. Jaws dropped, I was forced to look at my friend with nothing I could do but watch. It got harder to do, though, as the laughter grew stronger and his movements grew more unpredictable. This must have been the punishment I deserved, but the sight was just too awful to behold.

Finally getting the courage to say something, I took a deep breath, only for Satoshi to finally stop laughing, beating me to the call.

“Are you fucking mocking me!?” he asked.

Gritting my teeth, the realization finally came to me. I haven’t helped at all. With everything I said, my hole just kept growing deeper, but I couldn’t stop anymore. I wanted to help my friend.

“No! That’s not what I’m try-”

“You want me to confess to the girl you took from me!?”

Screaming to such a degree that I could feel his vocal cords straining, I only had a limited window to respond before he went truly berserk.

“I just want you to-”

It didn’t matter, though. In the blink of an eye, I felt Satoshi’s fist collide with my nose. I flew to the concrete floor. Feeling the impact, I put my hand on my face, only to see the blood of the attack seep into my hand. My eyes flashed constantly, trying desperately to remain conscious. I tried to focus on the sky in front of me. The orange evening skies were a beauty unlike any other. If only I could appreciate it with him. When my body decided it was conscious, too, I could finally see clearly.

It turned out that the punch didn’t even hurt much. What hurt was my heart, a statement that I’m sure the old me would laugh at me for saying. It was true, though. I didn’t know it was possible for me to have gotten to a point like this; a point this low. I almost felt like conceding. But then, I remembered what Ayane told me.

“I chose to be with you.”

I mumbled her words. I think I finally got what she meant. She’d help me achieve my goals. I never had an ambition in my life, but now, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to get Satoshi back!

Getting back on my feet, I lunged toward Satoshi and raised my fist at him, going for a hook on his jaw. Once the punch connected with a thump, I held him onto the ground, ensuring he could no longer run away.

“You need to get a grip! Why do you think everyone’s against you?”

With no other part of his body he could move, Satoshi resorted to crunching his neck up to bolster the volume of his voice.

“Because they are!”

“You’re wrong, though!”

I said that to finally be straightforward. I could no longer dance around the truth.

“How am I wrong!? Give me some sort of evidence at least!”

Before telling him, I got right up to his face, although I had to close my eyes in such a vulnerable state.

“Because you have me, Satoshi-kun! You’re my friend! I care about you!”

When I opened my eyes, I saw the widened eyes of Satoshi. Slowly opening his mouth, he made his disbelief clear. I don’t know how I could tell either, but he looked like he desperately wanted to believe me.

“How can I know if you’re lying?”

I put my hands off his shoulders and took a deep breath before I spoke.

“I can’t tell you if I’m honest, but I can tell you that I’m sorry. I’m sorry I neglected to reach out to you further. I didn’t make a single effort to know you better. I can’t believe I didn’t even know about your passion for manga.”

Gritting my teeth and clenching my fists, I felt anger, not toward him, but toward myself. I needed to get myself back together, though, so I took another deep breath. I knew I needed to say more, but I ended up putting my hand behind my neck, hesitant to do so. Regardless, I continued to open up.

“I understand why you feel this way. I can’t just ignore my years of neglect. I’ll never be able to take that back. What I can do, though, is help you now. I want to do what I couldn’t do for so long and finally help you. You don’t have to ever trust me again, but if you indulge in me for just one moment, then I promise it’ll be worth it.

My face went red before I could finish, but I kept on speaking anyway.

“What am I even saying? I’m just being selfish; asking for our friendship ba-”

“Fine, fine, I’ll do it,” he said as he lightly pushed me off him and got back up.

“Huh?” was all I could ask given just how stubborn he was before.

“I’ll give you another chance, Yuuki-kun. You better hope this works.”

He said that while covering his face, although I could see the red seeping through. I guess my monologue worked, somehow. I didn’t bother to question it, though. I simply smiled.

“In that case, let’s go!”

Letting out my hand to him yet again, he held onto it, ready for me to take him to the clubroom.

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