Chapter 9:

Definitely Not a Declaration

We are Supposed to be the Side Characters

30 minutes before I embarrassed myself in the gymnasium.

I was trying to find Miya for our first match. I found her sitting under a tree, sipping on her own drink box, a view I rarely saw from her.

"Why are you sitting here?"

"Nothing, maybe just enjoying the fresh air," she said without even glancing in my direction.

I followed her gaze.

Ah, she was watching Nikki playing soccer.

"You know we have a match in 5 minutes, right?"

She turned her gaze towards me.

"That should be my question. Why are you still wearing your school uniform?"

"Well, I forgot to bring my sports jersey."

The scene of Miya staring at Nikki's match with her empty gaze, in the midst of the wind seemingly sweeps away her worries.

It seemed like her reason for being here wasn't a lie. Something must have happened.

"They made a bet, you know"

"...For Nikki's match?"

"No, for our match."

"Huh? Why?"

"Because I'm playing, duh"

"...I thought they liked you." I sat down, don’t really know how to respond here.

"Maybe. But i know in their minds, I might just be a rare product occasionally found in a playground that they can test for durability ‘till they are bored out."

I guess, being mixed-race is not common in a school like this.

Miya sighed.

"This actually.. makes me not want to win for them," she said still with her empty gaze.

"Then why not just not play at all?"


"They’re making the bet on you right? Not me. You don't have to participate, and I'll stil gonna win. But they'll lose eitherway."

"Do you want... to play alone, against two?"

"I'll figure it out."


And so, now I'm running. I don't know why, but I'm running.

If I arrive at the gymnasium and find Noa playing, my cool scene and a moment of confidence with Miya earlier will be meaningless.

While cringing about it, I slow down my pace.

Entering the gymnasium, I see Noa sitting on the bench. Thank goodness.

But how do I invite her?

Just ask? What if she refuses? It would be so embarrassing.

Persuade her?

A statement. I need to make a statement.

A statement that makes him feel needed. That way, at least there will be some communication first, right?

Besides,she actually wants to play, right? So, if i bridge her interest… and a chance.. With me…

"You still can do it! Be with me!"

Dammit, i ran too much, it made my inner voice and my actual voice are getting mixed up.

Now, my rationality can't respond to anything. Damn it. Others will misunderstand, won't they?

Amid the silence that has been going on, Noa stands up from his seat calmly.

Without saying anything, she walks towards the exit.

Five steps later, she stops.

She turns back.

"Let's do it," she says straightforwardly.



In the first match, we were soundly defeated.


The excitement of the day has gradually subsided, leaving behind a mix of emotions. The school grounds, once bustling with students cheering on their teams, now bear the traces of the day's events with scattered banners and flags.

Amidst the backdrop of the fading daylight, I find myself sitting on a bench near the school's playground, feeling both a sense of disappointment and fulfillment. The defeat in the match earlier still stings, but there's also a glimmer of joy in my heart.



I've grown used to this voice.

"Let's go home together!"

"Weren't you supposed to join the girls' group for a photo? I saw they were gathering."

"Hmmm... nah, I think I've had enough for today."

"Enough of what…?"

A grin, as icy as it is mischievous, occupied her face, but she didn't respond. Instead, her narrowed eyes and that frozen smile told me everything. And then, a couple emerged from behind her shoulder. "What's up?" Nikki interrupts.

"Where were you guys from?" i asked

"Well, Miya seemed down under the tree earlier, so I went over... and she fell asleep there. No way was I leaving her alone, right? She'd probably get kidnapped by some old guy collecting recyclables."

"Shut up," Miya interjects.

The image of them together under the tree oddly comforts me. I guess they were the main characters from the start, just not in my own story.

"So, how was the game?" Miya asks.

"Hehe, we lost straight in the first match. Sorry, Miya," Noa replies.

"Huh? It's okay, its funny though that three of you only played once today."

"Him to?" I point at Niki.

"Yeah... i said the reason didn’t i," Nikki answers nonchalantly, sparking another playful banter between him and Miya in an instant. Followed by Noa's soft laughter, like a bridge connecting the two high-pitched tones.

Amidst the warm atmosphere, an idea sparks in my mind."Hey, do you guys like volleyball?"


The park was quiet, and the late afternoon breeze was in its prime, so I figured, why not indulge in some fun again?

"That was enough… is what she said right? Is it really?" I said softly, trying to guess what Noa meant earlier.

"It’s surprising, Kai, for you to suggest an idea like this," Noa said as she approached me amidst our warm-up. "Hey, At this hour, what do you usually do?"

"Ah, usually..." I started but stopped short.

It seemed like my usual routine had disappeared since I met her.

"I've lost my routine."

"Heee..." she said nonchalantly. "Want to start again?"

"I don't know... I haven't decided yet."

"Alright," she said, getting up from her spot and walking over to Nikki and Miya, who were getting ready for our volleyball game.

"Noa," this time it was me who made her turn around.

"You know, I've been trying to distance myself from everyone… and you... and there are some here who actually still want to avoid..." Yeah, I was referring to the two lovebirds over there who were arguing about the court size.

"...not because I don't like you... I guess... I'm just too full of myself." I couldn't believe the words that had finally left my chest hurt just as much.

"...even though I might still be like that in the future, but.. when I’m ready at the time, would you help me get out of it?"

Noa pondered for a moment, her gaze fixed on me. It seemed like I was just spewing nonsense to her. "...In that case," she finally said. "...How about we—"

BANG! A volleyball slammed into my head.

"How long are you guys going to discuss these sneaky strategies? Come on, let's start playing fair!" Nikkaido yelled after tossing the ball.

"What kind of fair game starts with hitting your opponent?!" I retorted, feeling my blood boil, and I charged towards the court. The evening breeze seemed to cheer us on, masking the sigh of relief that had escaped me after unloading my thoughts to Noa.

All this time, I'd been avoiding anything that seemed too troublesome, cocooning myself in what I called 'a life that suits me.' But maybe, in doing so, I'd been avoiding the life I should be enjoying...

...but to truly enjoy it, I felt like I was already lagging behind the others.

Now, how do I catch up?