Chapter 39:


Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

After several rings of the bell, I found myself out of the classroom and in the school's halls, only having Ayane to talk to as we walked to the drama club room.

As we walked, none of us spoke. I had nothing to say, but I wanted to say something, with that reflected in the way I tightly held onto my bag. I knew that Ayane was nervous, too. Hell, I could see it on her. With her eyes glued to the ground and her arms crossed, she couldn’t have made it any more obvious.

To alleviate this, I offered my hand to her. It took her a second to notice, but she eventually accepted. Feeling the sweat of her hand, I now finally knew the meaning behind the saying actions speak louder than words. I no longer wanted to say anything because I already knew how she felt.

Instead, I kissed her cheek. As her face turned red and her feet lightly bounced back and forth, she didn’t know what to make of this, prompting me to finally speak up.

“You’ll do great, Ayane. I know you will.”

She still couldn’t face me, but she could still speak, saying exactly what I wanted to hear.

“Thanks. I’ll try my best.”

With her smile, I could finally take a deep breath and ease my worries. The timing was perfect, too, as shortly after, we’d find ourselves in the club room.

Opening the door, we found our seats as usual, although Satou never came to talk to us. It wasn’t until our advisor entered the stage to give announcements that he came back. I tried not to give it much thought, as he quietly sat down, anticipating what she had to say.

“Today will be our final run-through of the play. We will be running through all of Act Three. I want the stage set before we get our actors on stage.”

As such, that’s what we did. I played out my scenes until we got to the final scene. The scene between Satou and Mio.

“I love you!”

Satou, yelling to the stage, brilliantly displayed his intensity, with Mio doing the same. As she stood back with her hands covering her face, it looked like she actually liked him. When she finally forced her hands away from her face, she yelled her response elegantly.

“I do too!”

With all spoken dialogue completed, then, Rie only had one thing left to announce.

“Alright, that was good. Now you have to kiss for the final scene.”

When I looked to see if Satou would do it, he had already left.

“Do you know what that was about?” I asked.

Rie took a deep breath, sitting right at the edge of the stage, seeming reluctant to answer me, although she eventually would.

“Can we go into the dressing room? I think Satou-kun would only trust you with what I’m about to say.”

I didn’t know what to think of this, but I did know what to say.

“Okay then, I’ll go with you.”


In the dressing room, we sat on chairs not too far apart in the small and quiet space. Behind us was a rack of clothes used for the play. It was empty, for the most part. Understandably so since we had to get into costume for the play.

I tried to hide my anticipation by holding my hands together. Rie, however, couldn’t before telling me what she needed to say.

“During casting, Satou-kun deliberately asked me if we could call off the kiss scene until the last day of rehearsal. I obliged, assuming that he’d do it.”

Rie looked at the ground, but not at one single spot. She looked as lost as she seemed, with that reflected at the end of her statement.

“I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know what’s up with him.”

“Why don’t you ask him?” I asked.

She sighed.

“I don’t think that would change anything.”

“You’re right.”

I looked down as I said that, feeling the same level of defeat that she did. As my hope vanished, though, hers came back when she gave me a proposal.

“How about you ask him?”

“Why me?”

“Because you’re always hanging out with each other.”

“I guess I really am the only one he can rely on. Fine, I’ll go.”

“Thank you.”

As I got up, she tugged on the end of my blazer before getting up herself. As I turned around to hear what was about to say, I saw a warm smile on her face.

“You know, you’ve become so much more lively since you’ve met Ayane-san. You actually seem like you’re having fun.”

“It’s because I am,” I said with a massive smile.

Finally opening the door to get back on stage, I sprinted to get outside. For the briefest moment, I got to see the expressions on the other students' faces. As I grit my teeth, they opened their mouths in awe. Even Mio did, somehow.

I didn’t have much time to think of that, though, as I scanned the outdoors. I thought of two places that he could hide in, but one would be more dire if he was there, so I checked it first. Looking at the sidewalks in front of the school’s campus, I didn’t see him on either side. While I could make the assumption that he ran too far out of my sight, there was actually a far more likely alternative, as even though it didn’t look like it, Satou was far more of a rule-abider than he acted as.

As such, I switched to going inside the school’s building. Seeing a restroom, I entered it as soon as I could. Given how it was the closest bathroom to the clubroom, I decided to look into it. Even though he may have chosen another restroom in the school, I decided to take my chance and call out to him.

“Satou-kun, are you there!?”

I couldn’t hear anything in response. It didn’t matter, though, as I saw his legs in the stalls, a set of legs I never thought would be useful to memorize until this day. Now knowing it was him, I stood in front of his stall, ready to call out to him again.

“Satou-kun, I know you’re in there! Talk to me!”

He continued to ignore me, so I kicked the stall and yelled louder.

“Say something, dammit!”

Somehow, something came out of it, as he subtly creaked open the door to the stall.

“Fine, I’ll talk to you!”

I slammed the door fully open, finally getting to the meat of the manor.

“You know why I’m here, right?”

“Of course I know, dumbass.”

“So, will you go with me?” I asked as I let out my hand to him.

He slapped them away, though, saying, “Hell no.”

I took a step back as my eyes widened in disbelief.

“But why!?”

“Haven’t I made it clear already? It’s because I like Mio-chan, dammit!”

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