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.]

*

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

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

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

‘’Don’t you sass me!’’

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.

*

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.

‘’Say, Karasuma-san-‘’

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

The subject had changed in the blink of an eye.

‘’W-What now?’’

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

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

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

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

‘’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.

‘’W-When did you get here?!’’

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

‘’O-Oh, her? A classmate of mine.’’

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

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

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

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.

My assumption got shred to pieces when-

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

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

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

-this happened...

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

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

‘It IS chuunibyou…’

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

‘’Don’t call me little!’’

‘’That’s what bothered you?!’’

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

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

‘’Not you too!’’ Yumeha complained.

Energy replenished: Way too fast!

‘’I-I did, why?’’ I answer.

‘’Where is she!?’’

‘’H-Here.’’ I pointed at Yumeha.

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

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

‘’I’ll get to decide that!’’

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

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

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

‘’No more pet nam-‘’

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

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

‘’Got it got it!’’

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

The bus suddenly stopped.

‘’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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘’Eh?’’ she replied dumbfoundedly.

I had my suspicions, but-

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

-she is completely dumb.

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

‘’I do, why?’’

‘’Yumeha, what do I do?!’’

‘’W-Why are you asking me?’’

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

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

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

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.

There was only one option left.

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

‘’R-Really!? You mean it!?’’

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

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

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

‘’We’re home.’’

‘’Oh, welcome back!’’ rejoiced Mum.

‘’Mum, can I ask for a huge favor?’’

‘’What is it?’’

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

‘’I-I will…’’

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

‘’Aaaah-! Eeeehh-! I-I-!’’

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

‘’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.

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

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

‘’Y-Yeah…’’

‘’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?’’

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

‘’So, what is it?’’

‘’Lie on the bed.’’

‘’Eh?’’

‘’Just do it.’’

‘’Why should I?!’’

‘’Just do it!’’

‘’O-Okay.’’

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

I lied on my bed as she had ordered.

‘’Now close your eyes.’’

‘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-?!’

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

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

‘’Lift your head.’’

‘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!’

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

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

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

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

‘’N-No…’’

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.

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.

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

[-that our heartbeats were synchronized.]

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

‘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.’

‘’…why are you doing this?’’

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

‘’What do you mean?’’

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

‘’But this morning-‘’

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

‘’That’s not true.’’

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

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

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

‘’I told you it’s not true!’’

‘’A-Are you crying?’’

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

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.

‘’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-!’’

‘’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?’’

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

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

‘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.

She was on the verge of crying herself.

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

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

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.

But it just didn’t feel right.

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.

I instinctively closed my eyes.

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.

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

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

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

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

And on top of that, she was shedding tears.

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

‘’Akiya-san, what are you-?’’

‘’It’s Yukino for you.’’

‘’Yukino…-san…then…’’

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

‘’I-I can...’’

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

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

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

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

‘’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?’’

‘’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’?’’

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

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

‘’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.’’

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

‘’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.’’

-and I felt it intensifying-

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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!

‘’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?!’’

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

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

Only Yumeha would talk in such a straightforward manner.

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

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

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

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

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

‘’Good!’’

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What a mood swing…’

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

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

‘’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.’’

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

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

‘’Of course they are!’’

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

‘’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.

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

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

‘’She is not even cute…’’

‘SHE’S THE DEVIL INCARNATE!’

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

‘’Y-Yeah, let’s go!’’

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.

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

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

‘’What exactly?’’

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.

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

‘That little-!’

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

*

That is how Yukino and I met.

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.

I don’t believe in fate, but-

-Akiya Yukino is the person who changed my life!

[I wish things could stay like this forever…]


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