Chapter 37:


Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

By the time I finished eating, which was rather quickly, Ayane’s expression still had not changed. My compliments certainly flustered her a lot. All I could do as I saw it was smile, with that being what Ayane saw as she finally looked at me again. Not having anything to say, she continued eating her breakfast, while I got out of my chair.

“I’m going to put this plate in the dishwasher, then head to the bathroom.”

Ayane got out of her chair with her hands slapped on the table.

“I can do that for you.”

I sighed before smiling again.

“Just, let me return the favor. You’ve done more than enough already.”

Since washing my plate took so little time, I found myself in the bathroom rather quickly. The only person keeping me company here was my mind, with only one thought to speak of.

Why didn’t I have sex with her that night?

It’d been a while since we first slept together. I’ve had a lot of time to practice for the school festival play, but I still felt like something was missing. I still didn’t think I was ready to take the next step in the relationship. I haven’t had the balls to actually do it with her yet.

As I tidied up my hair, I couldn’t wash those thoughts away. Her patience with me was truly a sight to behold. I should’ve been happy about it, but I couldn’t help but fear losing her to it. I’d already lost my mom, after all.

I didn’t want to sit in these thoughts any longer, but I had to as I brushed my teeth. If two minutes were secretly an hour, then I wouldn’t be surprised at all.

When that time finally came, though, I finally got out of the bathroom to await Ayane who was ready to go to school. At the front door, she put on her shoes while I attempted to do the same.

“Today’s our last day to rehearse. Pretty eventful, I’d say.”

“Yeah, it is.”

I had nothing else to say, although I guess that didn’t matter too much when we had just finished putting on our shoes. With our bags in hand, we opened the door to the outside.

With the time passing, so did the cold. Each day, getting colder and colder only reminded me of where I was at.

Was it normal for a couple to stop making progress?

Nothing’s happened since that night, and the cold weather… if it really symbolized slow change, then that must have meant that I haven’t truly changed at all.

As I shivered, I sat in those thoughts, until I felt the warmth of Ayane’s body on my arm.

“I don’t know what you’re worried about, but I’ll be there for you.”

Looking down at her, I reached out for a hug.

“Thanks. It means a-”

“There you are, Yuuki-kun!”

And, of course, Satou had to ruin the moment. Dashing at an Olympic speed, his neediness couldn’t be any more clear. Turning his way after hearing him, I had to take my hands off Ayane to knock some sense into him.

“Shut the hell up, Satou-kun! Can’t you tell we’re having a moment here!”

“Sorry, I forgot my glasses,” he said as he put his hands near his eyes.

“Then how the hell did you find us!?”

Satou shrugged.

“I mean, I just ran in a straight line.”

“Why are you even arguing this? Your eyesight isn’t even bad.”

“I forgot that I made a glasses joke.”

With his hand on his neck and a big dumb smile equipped, his carefree attitude began pissing me off. I could only respond before putting my hand over my face, feeling a level of disappointment I never thought possible.

“Of course you did, dumbass.”

“Yet I scored higher on my exams than you,” he said with his finger pointed up.

“Says someone who actually had to study to pass.”

“Hey, I’m sure Ayane-chan studied too.”

With sweat dripping down his face, I could tell that this was his only line of defense, something that Ayane would innocently crush with her response.

“No, not really. I knew I’d pass.”

“God dammit!”

As Satou stomped on the ground, I finally got him to shut up, although it wasn’t like I’d actually do anything with that. Satou must have realized that too, as after several deep breaths, he got impatient enough to speak again, walking in the same relaxed manner he’d always been characterized with.

“The school festival is tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll do great.”

“I hope so. We all put a lot of effort into that play.”

“You say it as if it isn’t obvious.”

While my hand was on my neck and my posture shot down, Satou continued to stand tall with a smile. As I looked at this, I groaned, looking away from him in my response.

“Not everyone’s as confident as you.”

“So, you aren’t confident?”

“I guess you could put it that way,” I said, stretching my head.

Satou put his hand on his chin.

“I don’t know man. Your acting’s been pretty-”

“It’s bad! So what!?” I yelled at him.

Satou sighed, returning to his usual posture.

“It’s actually not that bad. It’s just… not up to snuff. You’ve been improving quickly, though. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

With that bit of validation, I could finally sigh to get away from all of my insecurities. Finally looking back at him again, I smiled.

“It’s all thanks to Ayane.”

Satou snickered.

“So you’re no longer using the honorifics. It took you long enough.”

“Oh, shut up.”

We had finally made it to the school gate. By this point, Satou had fully flipped the script, putting me on the defensive for what felt like the first time. I didn’t want anything to do with it, really, which is why I breathed a sigh of relief when he began talking to Ayane.

“How are you feeling, Ayane-chan?”

“Extremely nervous,” she said with the blankest stare I’d ever seen.

“Don’t be. You may be rusty, but you’re more talented than a lot of the asshats there. You could legitimately make it to the theatre world if you wanted to.”

Ayane looked back at him with stars in her eyes, the passion seeping out of them.

“I could?”

“I’m telling ya. It’s something to consider… for you too, Yuuki-kun.”

As I walked up the crowded stairs inside the school, I thought about what Satou had to say. I never saw myself as an actor, but I also never thought of myself as anything at all, so I guess I didn’t mind hearing what he had to say. If Ayane really wanted to venture out there, then I’d want to support her. I wouldn’t want to prevent her from reaching her potential, after all.

I couldn’t sit in those thoughts forever, though. Eventually, Satou had to go to his class, so I waved him goodbye.

“Thank you, Satou-kun. I’ll consider it.”

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