Chapter 41:

Confess, Satou-kun!

Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

“God dammit! I couldn’t even land a punch on you!”

“Even Satoshi-kun was stronger than you.”

Satou didn’t say anything. He only growled to himself, furious that I had the upper hand. With him staying on the ground, I moved on to my next course of action.

“You have no other options, Satou-kun. Answer my question!”

As he covered his face, he chuckled.

“You kicked my ass, so it seems like I have to.”

Taking a deep breath, he could now tell me everything I wanted to know.

“I… don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t feel like Mio-chan wants to see me that way.”

“Let’s assume she does. What happens then?”

He finally gave me his eye contact.

“Y'all will just call me a pussy.”

“I won’t.”

Satou punched the ground, looking away from me again.

“I already know that. It’s not you that I’m concerned with.”

As the winds settled down, I crouched down to his level, sitting as I stared right at him, refusing to let him dodge my next point.

“Why do you care about how others perceive you then?”

“It’s probably my father. He said, ‘Be a man’ this and ‘Be a man’ that. He’d always get angry at me whenever I’d cry.”

“That probably explains some of your more sup-par performances then.”

“Yeah, although I’d argue that’s how my acting is as a whole. I ham myself up in front of everyone here, but ultimately, I’m just a big fish in a small pond. I’m no match for the sharks and whales of the world. I imagine Mio-chan would leave me for one of them even if she ever did say yes to me.”

“Think of it this way then. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is manly since so few men have the guts to do it. If anyone puts you down for putting your feelings on your sleeve, then they’re just insecure. The true essence of a man is someone who can take the virtues of manhood while discarding the things that put people down.”

I stood up as I finished my speech. Wanting Satou to do the same, I let out my hand to him, although he couldn’t do it. He still had more to tell me.

“I’ve never heard that before. The first time I asked someone about this, they told me that my masculinity was inherently toxic. I felt like she couldn’t understand me.”

I pulled my hand back.

“She? Who might she be?”

“My mom. I guess there are no surprises here, but my parents divorced.”

“No wonder I never hung out at your place then.”

Satou chuckled.

“Yeah. You’re right about that. The damn old hag even got custody of me. I’ve never seen my father since.”

“Do you want to see him?”

“Hell no! My parents can go straight to hell!”

He then started laughing uncontrollably. I could tell he didn’t want to cry. I guess this was his next best bet. It wasn’t until a long while that he could take a deep breath, finally allowing him to speak again.

“Now I get why Satoshi-kun was convinced by you. You have a real knack for getting people to do what they want.”

“I do?”

Satou finally stood up, this time on his own.

“Of course you do. You got Ayane-chan to audition for the play, Staoshi-kun to confess to Ayane-chan, and now you’ll be getting me to confess to Mio-san.”


As I asked this, Satou’s face turned red, although he tried to deny this with the rest of his body. As his shoulders perked up, he tried to yell up his response.

“That’s what you’re paying attention to!? Okay, fine! I’ll admit that the Chan honorific annoyed her!”

“You really did listen to me,” I said with my eyes widened.

“Isn’t that what I just said!?”

As Satou scratched his head, I sighed with a cheeky response.

“Yeah yeah.”

Although I didn’t want to, I somehow smiled after I said that. I denied it, though, shaking my head before I spoke again.

“How did you fall for her?”

“She’s a great actor. Better than I ever could, at least. I appreciate that dedication.”

As he reached his hand to the sky, I could see the weight lifted off him with his light smile. Seeing this, the only way I could react was by smiling, myself.

“Thank you, Yuuki-kun,” is all he could tell me when he finally got a look at my expression.

“Wanna see who can run back faster?” I asked.

“Hell yeah.”

As we both sprinted back to the school, it was a close race, mirroring the run we just went on. Ultimately, though, Satou wound up in front of the drama club’s doors faster than I did.

Now needing to regroup his breaths, Satou pepped himself up.

“I’m gonna do it now.”

Slamming the doors open, Satou dramatically made his presence known to the whole club. With his smile on full display, he moved confidently as everyone looked in awe.

“You’re back!?” Rie-sensei yelled.

Taking off his blazer like some sort of superhero, Satou held onto his chest and took a deep breath, only to point directly at Mio, ready to yell his thoughts to the whole club.

“Mio-san! I love you!”

When he finished, he closed his eyes, hesitating after the moment. As the two of us expected gossip, I only wanted to see the reaction of one person. Satou, however, refused to open his eyes, suspending himself from seeing Mio’s reaction. I understood it, though. After going through all of this effort to confess in front of the whole class, I would hate to be rejected too.

That’s why, as the seconds passed, the lack of noise forced Satou into a state of further confusion and fear. Forcing his eyes shut, he couldn’t see anything, but he didn’t need to. All of the students in the drama club didn’t say anything. No gossip, no laughter, and no mockery. As this went on, Satou’s fists began to clench until he finally opened his eyes.

Clenching his teeth, he shivered as he dreaded seeing the look on Mio’s face. While she began by putting her hand over her face, not wanting to reveal her reaction, she finally put it away when Satou looked at her.

She smiled.

The smile only got wider as it went on until she chuckled a bit, surprised that Satou could finally show her some honesty. Now, being able to pick up the words she needed, she finally responded.

“I love you too, Satou-kun!”

After yelling her confession in true theatre kid fashion, the whole room went silent. As everyone had their mouths open in shock at what she said, I began to smile, knowing that Satou’s struggle could finally be put to rest.

Noticing that Satou couldn’t see my face, I grabbed his attention without a word, clapping my hands together. As my clapping continued, someone else in the club joined in. With more people applauding, the drama club eventually roared in applause.

With us now cheering, Rie took center stage, ready to give the announcement we needed as she puffed up her chest and raised her voice.

“Let the show begin!”

“Yes, let’s do this!” Satou and Mio said in sync.

As Satou ran back onto the stage, our rehearsal of the final scene could finally begin. Holding onto Mio’s hand and hugging her with the other, Satou went in for the kiss, letting us finish our final rehearsal.

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