Chapter 5:

Prologue III

[ON HIATUS] Beyond the Horizon, Farther Than the Eye can See

[Being beside Yukino made me feel really safe for some reason. At the same time, an irrational sense of fear was being present.]Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

After leaving the school grounds, I waited to take the bus to get home. An unexpected visitor suddenly appeared. Bookmark here

‘’Where do you think you are going without me?!’’ said the out-of-breath Yukino, who had barely caught the bus.Bookmark here

‘’What happened to your high spirits from this morning?’’Bookmark here

‘’Don’t you sass me!’’Bookmark here

After a second of silence, we couldn’t hold ourselves back and cracked up. I had then realized that she and I were just so compatible.Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

We spent most of our time on the bus talking about the class and the teachers. What stroke me as odd was that she kept staring at the ocean the entire time.Bookmark here

‘’Say, Karasuma-san-‘’Bookmark here

[‘’-what do you think exists beyond the horizon?’’]Bookmark here

The subject had changed in the blink of an eye. Bookmark here

‘’W-What now?’’ Bookmark here

‘’It’s just something that I’ve been wondering about. Forget I asked.’’ Bookmark here

That question had caught me off guard. How come she ask something like that? Not to mention [she seemed to be serious about it.] Bookmark here

‘’I must be tired. Let me rest on your shoulder for a bit.’’Bookmark here

I nodded and let her lean on me. She deserved a little nap after all, being hyper drains all of your energy eventually.Bookmark here

‘’What are you spacing out about, Eru-nee?’’ shouted Yumeha in my ear, who was in the seat in front yet facing me, much to my surprise.Bookmark here

‘’W-When did you get here?!’’Bookmark here

‘’Ever since that girl lied on you. Who is she, if I may?’’Bookmark here

‘’O-Oh, her? A classmate of mine.’’Bookmark here

‘’Is that so? You’ve gotten pretty close, haven’t you? That’s so unlike you.’’Bookmark here

‘’I guess it’s her personality is like that…’’ I giggled.Bookmark here

‘’Huehehehe! That’s quite the bond you two share!’’Bookmark here

I hadn’t noticed that other girl sitting next to Yumeha since I was focused on our conversation, who, unlike Yumeha, was sitting like a normal human being. Bookmark here

My assumption got shred to pieces when-Bookmark here

‘’Yu-Yumeha, who is that?’’ I whispered in her ear.Bookmark here

‘’Todo Nazuna. She has chuunibyou from the looks of it.’’Bookmark here

‘’It’s not chuunibyou!’’ she pouted. ‘’A-Anyways, shall I know of your name?’’Bookmark here

-this happened...Bookmark here

‘’You can call me Eru. Nice to meet you!’’Bookmark here

‘’Pleased to meet your acquaintance too, Eru-san. You can call me by my human name if you want to.’’Bookmark here

‘It IS chuunibyou…’Bookmark here

‘’Th-That’s Nazuna-chan, right? Thanks for helping my little sister survive on her first day.’’Bookmark here

‘’Don’t call me little!’’Bookmark here

‘’That’s what bothered you?!’’Bookmark here

‘’Hmm! I suppose that was bound by our contract!’’Bookmark here

‘’Did anyone say ‘little sister’ by any chance!?’’ rejoiced Yukino, having had just woken up from her nap.Bookmark here

‘’Not you too!’’ Yumeha complained.Bookmark here

Energy replenished: Way too fast!Bookmark here

‘’I-I did, why?’’ I answer.Bookmark here

‘’Where is she!?’’Bookmark here

‘’H-Here.’’ I pointed at Yumeha.Bookmark here

‘’Karasuma-san, you never told me you had one of these adorable creatures with you!’’Bookmark here

‘’Don’t make it sound like she’s a pet…’’Bookmark here

‘’I’ll get to decide that!’’Bookmark here

‘Oh dear sweet Lord, who have I messed with this time?’Bookmark here

With every word Yukino uttered, she was getting even closer to Yumeha.Bookmark here

‘’I’m Akiya Yukino! Nice to meet you, Karasuma Junior!’’Bookmark here

‘’No more pet nam-‘’Bookmark here

Yukino had started patting Yumeha’s head before she could even finish talking.Bookmark here

‘’A-A little more to the left.’’ purred Yumeha, much like a cat.Bookmark here

‘’Got it got it!’’Bookmark here

‘Yumeha’s weakness: Headpats. Gotta remember this.’Bookmark here

The bus suddenly stopped.Bookmark here

‘’Hmm, so this is today’s shrine? The odds must be in my favor today! I bid you farewell, Yumecchi and co.’’ said Nazuna as she got off the bus.Bookmark here

‘’S-She called you ‘Yumecchi’-’’ was what I managed to say before cracking up. Bookmark here

‘’Your sister’s weird.’’ whispered Yukino to Yumeha, who was still getting being headpatted.Bookmark here

‘’Tell ME about it, I’m being forced to live with her.’’Bookmark here

Not that I was able to respond or anything, and it was all thanks to my unstoppable laughter. Bookmark here

After managing to stop my hysterical laughter, a new problem arose.Bookmark here

‘’This might seem weird, but…Akiya-san, where’s your stop?’’Bookmark here

‘’Eh?’’ she replied dumbfoundedly. Bookmark here

I had my suspicions, but-Bookmark here

‘’You see…I forgot to get off, teehee!’’Bookmark here

-she is completely dumb.Bookmark here

‘’Please tell me you don’t live in the city…’’Bookmark here

‘’I do, why?’’Bookmark here

‘’Yumeha, what do I do?!’’Bookmark here

‘’W-Why are you asking me?’’Bookmark here

‘’No helping it…’’ I sighed. ‘’We have to call a-’’Bookmark here

‘’[I’d rather not go home today.]’’ said Yukino in an almost inaudible voice.Bookmark here

Both me and Yumeha were looking at her like we had seen a ghost. Bookmark here

This wasn’t your typical reply from a high school student. Asking her why she said that would have been beyond rude, so the best thing to do was comply with the prevailing silence.Bookmark here

There was only one option left.Bookmark here

‘’Want to stay over for the night?’’ I murmured.Bookmark here

‘’R-Really!? You mean it!?’’Bookmark here

‘’It’s not a sleep-over, don’t get excited so easily…’’ Bookmark here

It was already night. Despite having a full moon, letting her walk home was out of the question, and so was leaving her alone. Bookmark here

After getting off the bus, we didn’t exchange a single word.Bookmark here

‘’We’re home.’’Bookmark here

‘’Oh, welcome back!’’ rejoiced Mum.Bookmark here

‘’Mum, can I ask for a huge favor?’’Bookmark here

‘’What is it?’’ Bookmark here

‘’The girl at the door…she is a classmate of mine. She forgot to get off at-‘’Bookmark here

I was startled at Yukino being unexpectedly silent, avoiding eye contact with me and Mum, as if she were so embarrassed that she couldn’t even look at us.Bookmark here

‘’I don’t mind at all! Honey, do you mind letting a friend of Eru’s stay over for the night?’’Bookmark here

‘’As long as Eru makes her feel at home.’’Bookmark here

‘’Thank you thank you thank you thank you! Akiya-san! You heard that!?Bookmark here

‘’Y-Yeah… Thank you very much…’’ answered Yukino in a trembling voice.Bookmark here

‘’You’re welcome! Just make sure you let your parents know.’’Bookmark here

‘’I-I will…’’ Bookmark here

‘’By the way, I’ll be serving dinner in half an hour, do you want to join us?’’Bookmark here

‘’Aaaah-! Eeeehh-! I-I-!’’Bookmark here

‘That’s it, this is out of the ordinary.’Bookmark here

‘’S-She’s just really shy! I’ll take her to my room and prepare a futon!’’ I said as I grabbed Yukino’s hand and went upstairs.Bookmark here

Once we were in my room, the mood had gotten really melancholic.Bookmark here

‘’You got some explaining to do, you know that?’’Bookmark here

‘’Y-Yeah…’’Bookmark here

‘’What happened to you?’’ I smiled at her. ‘’You can tell me anything. I know it sounds weird since we just met, but I want to be your friend if it’s possible. And friends can share anything and everything with each other, right?’’Bookmark here

‘’You’re…right.’’ she replied teary-eyed.Bookmark here

‘’So, what is it?’’Bookmark here

‘’Lie on the bed.’’Bookmark here

‘’Eh?’’Bookmark here

‘’Just do it.’’Bookmark here

‘’Why should I?!’’Bookmark here

‘’Just do it!’’Bookmark here

‘’O-Okay.’’ Bookmark here

I couldn’t say no to that for some reason. Sometimes you just have to go with the flaw, I guess.Bookmark here

I lied on my bed as she had ordered.Bookmark here

‘’Now close your eyes.’’Bookmark here

‘Eh? My eyes?! What is she thinking?! Come to think of it, she was acting weird when we were in the classroom too! Does that mean-?!’Bookmark here

I had no other choice but to do it; I closed my eyes.Bookmark here

At first, I could only hear her breathing. A couple of seconds later, I could also feel it on me.Bookmark here

‘’Lift your head.’’Bookmark here

‘Isn’t this like like a scene where the prince is kissing the princess?! AAAAAAAAAAAH! WHAT AM I EVEN THINKING AGAIN?! My heart’s going to break! Things are progressing way too fast!’Bookmark here

Apparently, she had sensed my pulse getting faster and faster.Bookmark here

‘’Relax, I won’t do anything weird to you.’’Bookmark here

That made me worry even more. After all, that’s kinda what the bad guys in movies say, right?Bookmark here

‘’You haven’t opened your eyes, have you?’’Bookmark here

‘’N-No…’’Bookmark here

My heartbeat had suddenly started slowing down. Yukino’s warm, soothing hands were touching my head gently, slowly moving it to somewhere. Despite her soft and careful movements, she was trembling. Bookmark here

I felt the air from my right ear being suppressed, until it faded for good. That was because Yukino had placed my head on something soft; her lap.Bookmark here

I could feel something else at the time. Yukino’s own heartbeat. I tried to concentrate on it, only to realize-Bookmark here

[-that our heartbeats were synchronized.]Bookmark here

She started stroking my hair and head like a caring big sister-or even like a mother. Bookmark here

‘I see… So that’s what getting your head patted feels like. No wonder why Yumeha loves this feeling. It’s really out of this world.’Bookmark here

‘’…why are you doing this?’’ Bookmark here

‘’Do you even need to ask? You have found out about me.’’Bookmark here

‘’What do you mean?’’Bookmark here

‘’That I get nervous around people I don’t know.’’Bookmark here

‘’But this morning-‘’Bookmark here

‘’I was trying to be different for a change. You wouldn’t have liked me if I were shy just like I was downstairs?’’Bookmark here

‘’That’s not true.’’Bookmark here

‘’Please be honest with your feelings. You must be annoyed with me not showing the real me from the time we met.’’Bookmark here

‘’Why are you degrading yourself so much?’’ I muttered.Bookmark here

‘’People tend to avoid quiet things, don’t they? You wouldn’t have liked me either-’’Bookmark here

‘’I told you it’s not true!’’Bookmark here

‘’A-Are you crying?’’Bookmark here

I was indeed, but I hadn’t realized it until Yukino had told me. Bookmark here

These tears weren’t the same as before. They were something I’d been holding for so long, yet they had to come out at that specific moment.Bookmark here

‘’You don’t know how much I’ve been through transferring schools my entire life. I had slowly started losing confidence in myself that I would ever find a real friend. But you and everyone else in the class just-! You just-!’’Bookmark here

‘’Calm down, Karasuma-san.’’ she said calmly while caressing my hair even more softly than before to help me calm down. ‘’You can tell me everything, but I want you to say it with the brightest of smiles on your face. You’re taking something off your chest that’s been a burden, right? Isn’t that what friends are supposed to do? Don’t they support each other in need?’’Bookmark here

She understood me perfectly. But instead of saying ‘thank you’, all I could do was cry even more.Bookmark here

‘’I will always be there for you. I can’t leave you alone. For you have stolen my heart, Karasuma Eru.’’Bookmark here

‘Wha-What is she talking about?! Is this what she was aiming for this whole time?!’
I impulsively stopped crying about my past, opened my eyes and focused on Yukino’s face to see how she felt about what she had just uttered.Bookmark here

She was on the verge of crying herself.Bookmark here

Her face slowly drew closer to mine, my heart beating faster than ever before.Bookmark here

[Being beside Yukino made me feel really safe for some reason. At the same time, an irrational sense of fear was being present.]Bookmark here

Indeed, I could have let her do what she wanted to do, my body didn’t want me to let go no matter what I thought.Bookmark here

But it just didn’t feel right.Bookmark here

She had locked my hands in a split second before I could react, making me unable to move an inch. I couldn’t even get a single sound out from my mouth due to my surprise. Bookmark here

I instinctively closed my eyes. Bookmark here

I had given up resisting. Yukino was aware of that and let one of my hands go, while the other one was being held tight. Bookmark here

‘This is it. I have to accept my fate. It can’t be THAT bad.’Bookmark here

My fringe was swept away from my forehead, as it was getting warmer by Yukino’s light breath.Bookmark here

Yukino’s warm lips had touched my forehead, unlike what I was expecting to happen. Bookmark here

Was this a sign of love? No. Because her expression was nothing like that.Bookmark here

And on top of that, she was shedding tears.Bookmark here

‘’Thank you. Thank you very much for accepting me for what I am.’’Bookmark here

‘’Akiya-san, what are you-?’’Bookmark here

‘’It’s Yukino for you.’’Bookmark here

‘’Yukino…-san…then…’’Bookmark here

‘’Just Yukino.’’ she scolded me. ‘’Can you say that, Eru?’’Bookmark here

‘’I-I can...’’ Bookmark here

‘’’You know why the others don’t call me just by my name?’’Bookmark here

‘’Because you don’t allow them to.’’ I pointed out ironically.Bookmark here

‘’You sure are a funny one!’’ she giggled. ‘’But that’s not the reason.’’Bookmark here

‘’But we just met, it doesn’t feel right to call you by that all of a sudden.‘’Bookmark here

‘’It’s totally fine. I understand why you’re worried about that. There’s no need to though. I’m starting to understand you a lot better than you think. And I have a feeling you will understand me a lot better than I can think too. Doesn’t that mean we can become close friends? Is there any need for formalities in that case, Eru?’’Bookmark here

‘’Even if it’s a hunch of yours… I guess I don’t mind then. But what about the others? You’ve known them longer than me, so why do I get to be the only one who calls you ’just Yukino’?’’Bookmark here

‘’[It’s because I can trust you more than them.]’’Bookmark here

I did feel a chill running down my spine at that very instant-Bookmark here

‘’You know, there’s this rumor about me that spread like wildfire at school. Everyone’s wary of me thanks to it, even our classmates. I can assure you that it’s not true.’’Bookmark here

‘Why is she even telling me that? Isn’t it better if I’m better off not knowing?’Bookmark here

‘’You’re hearing it straight from the victim’s mouth. Don’t believe anything anyone is saying about me. I want you to be able to trust me.’’Bookmark here

-and I felt it intensifying-Bookmark here

‘’We are the same after all. [We’ve both been deprived of something vital in our lives.]’’Bookmark here

[-It was the same feeling as with that boy this morning.]Bookmark here

I couldn’t stop gazing at her after that. Confusion was the only thing I could feel. Was I supposed to be happy because she said that or worried?Bookmark here

‘’I recognize that look in your eyes, Eru.’’Bookmark here

Whatever the case, Yukino had flashed that angelic smile of hers. All I could do was smile in return.Bookmark here

That’s right. What she said didn’t matter to me. I had that feeling we would get along from the very beginning.Bookmark here

‘’Eru-nee, Akiya-san, dinner is ready, better come do-‘’Bookmark here

My heart felt like it was going to explode. I was so shocked that she came in at the worst possible moment! And without even knocking!Bookmark here

‘’I knew it was so unlike you to get close to someone, but how did you even go so far?! Didn’t Dad say no lovey-doveys on the first day?!’’Bookmark here

‘’I-I swear it’s not what it looks like!’’ I bolted upright on the bed.Bookmark here

‘’This excuse is older than Mum and Dad.’’Bookmark here

Only Yumeha would talk in such a straightforward manner. Bookmark here

‘’Look, I don’t mind if you’re into girls, your secret’s safe with-‘’Bookmark here

That instantly triggered my embarrassment mode. ‘’Wha-Wha-Wha-Wha-What secret?! I’m not into girls! You’ve got it all wrong!’’Bookmark here

‘’Eru-nee, you’re as red to the ears as it goes. Big sisters are so weird.’’Bookmark here

‘’Look who’s talking about being weird!’’Bookmark here

‘’I’m not even planning to go on with this.’’Bookmark here

‘’Good!’’Bookmark here

‘I thought this would be a vicious cycle for a moment…’Bookmark here

Yukino had started laughing at what we considered a ‘normal siblingly dispute’.Bookmark here

‘’Karasuma Junior, can you please come here for a moment?’’Bookmark here

‘’I have a name, you know…’’ she sighed as she closed the door behind her to approach Yukino.Bookmark here

‘’Are you in the mood for a headpat, Tsumeba?’’Bookmark here

‘’You don’t even need to ask! Pat me please!’’ delighted Yumeha, waving her ahoge. ‘’Wait, I’m Yumeha, not Tsumeba!’’Bookmark here

‘What a mood swing…’Bookmark here

Yukino started patting Yumeha’s head, and as usual, she had started purring. Bookmark here

‘Is she even human?! How can a sane person fall for such an obvious bait like that?!’Bookmark here

‘’You see, Eru wanted to talk to me about something that bothered her. She got so passionate about it though that she started crying, so I had to comfort her.’’Bookmark here

‘’Well, if we’re talking Eru-nee, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me.’’ Bookmark here

‘’Aren’t pats the best way to comfort the other side?’’Bookmark here

‘’Of course they are!’’Bookmark here

I felt like I was listening to a dog and her owner talking for a moment…Bookmark here

‘’I didn’t mind the case either way. Just make sure to be down in less than 5 minutes. Your secret’s safe, Eru-nee!’’ she winked at me, closing the door behind her.Bookmark here

‘Did she even listen to anything we said?!’Bookmark here

‘’Isn’t it great having such a cute little sister?’’Bookmark here

‘’She is not even cute…’’Bookmark here


‘’So, Eru, shall we get going? Food can’t wait!’’Bookmark here

‘’Y-Yeah, let’s go!’’Bookmark here

Man, I know I’ve already said this, but this girl didn’t care at all if it were the first time we met or the last. She tried to make me have a positive impression of her. And I have to admit, she caught my eye.Bookmark here

As we were getting to the kitchen to eat dinner, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to ask her something.Bookmark here

‘’U-Um, Yu-Yukino! Did you mean what you said before?’’Bookmark here

‘’What exactly?’’Bookmark here

I started fidgeting, ‘’T-That I…um…have stolen your heart…’’ I said in a low voice so as for her to be the only one listening to me.Bookmark here

‘’Oh, that? Of course it was a joke! I just wanted to tease you a bit!’’ she smiled as she entered the kitchen.Bookmark here

‘That little-!’Bookmark here

I was glad she was feeling more comfortable around me and my family. It seemed like she was like part of it.Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

That is how Yukino and I met. Bookmark here

Even 2 months later, despite this unlikely bond we formed, we treasure each other more than anything else. None of us could have imagined that we became great friends just because we could understand each other better than anyone else.Bookmark here

I don’t believe in fate, but-Bookmark here

-Akiya Yukino is the person who changed my life!Bookmark here

[I wish things could stay like this forever…] Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.