Chapter 34: three persons and three leaves

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[Maika Fukumura’s PoV]

 As I went home and soaked in the bath my mother had filled for me, I thought back over the events of the day.

 There were a number of situations that made me cover my face just thinking about them.

“Was I being a bit bossy?”

Despite being a third party, I may have said a few too many things.

“But… I decided to do my best, didn’t I?”

 I actually said it out loud, and I was inspired.
Yes, I decided to take the first step.

 I can’t keep worrying about every little thing like this.

 Besides—-no, but—-

[Because Fukumura, you looked like you were in a lot of pain.]

 —–This is bad.

 I can feel my whole body heat up.
Yes.
I am happy.

 I understood the meaning of those words.

 Touching that kindness, my heart was warmed.

That is why, that is why I.
I feel a little ashamed of my motives.

 Indeed, I think it was pure concern at first.

The encounter was a question, which turned into worry, and I couldn’t leave that child alone because her smile came to mind.

 But what about now?

 Of course I worry about him.
Including Emi, and Shirakawa for that matter.

But I felt a little bad that he was trying to do something for me, and that I took delight in it.

It is different now with him.
My motives are not so clean anymore.

 I stepped in with such a mindset, and he accepted me.

 I am sure this feeling is still unnoticed by him.

In his mind, I am sure I am still clean.

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 But what will he think of me when he finds out?

 I don’t even know myself.
Is this what love feels like?

 Do I love him? To be honest, I didn’t know myself.

 I was jealous.
I wanted to be the one to comfort him.

 But that was out of a warped sense of justice.
I just didn’t want to be outside the mosquito net.

 There was no choice to turn back, of course.
Nor do I intend to.

 It was my decision to begin with.
I have no regrets about that.

 However, the uneasiness in my heart remained forever and ever.

[Mizuki Itakura’s PoV]

 ”After all, you don’t want to talk about it…”

“I’m sorry, okay? Mizuki.”

 When I was in the second year of junior high school, a friend of mine was bullied.

 She was very depressed and I wanted to do something about it, so I often invited her out to play.

 Even so, she didn’t show her usual smile.

 She was not a bright girl.
She was more the quiet type.

I wanted to say something to her bully.

 I knew his face and name, but I didn’t know what kind of guy he was.

From that moment on, the boy named Kitami in my mind was already recognized as a disgusting person.

 But by the time the bullying was discovered and I found out about it, he had already stopped coming to school.

 Not long after that, he was transferred to a new school, and I finally never once complained about it.

“It’s okay, Emi.
I know it was hard for you.”

 She stubbornly refused to tell me what exactly had happened.

She just said, “I’m sorry, thank you.” She repeated this over and over again.

 I thought it was inevitable that she would not tell me what had happened.
I thought it would be a burden for her to put her painful memories into words, so I didn’t force her to do so.

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 Only my anger toward Kitami, who had caused her so much pain, built up.

[Mizuki Pov]

 And when I found Kitami at the cafe, I instantly felt the blood rush to my head.

 Moreover, Kitami seemed to be acquainted with Maika.

I couldn’t forgive him.

 Kitami had hurt my friend and then ran away.

 I couldn’t overlook the fact that someone like that was now involved with Maika.

 That’s why I cursed at him.

 I didn’t regret it.
I was only telling the truth.

The reason I told Shirakawa, who went to the same school as Maika, about Kitami’s past was for the both of us.

 Shirakawa and I live close to each other, so we are more like acquaintances than friends.

 We were not close, but not so close that it was bad.

 The disclosure of the past.
I can’t deny that there was no personal anger toward Kitami.

However, it was not to the extent of trying to trick him or anything like that.

 I just did not want to see Maika, Emi, or anyone else deceived and hurt by Kitami.

 But my intentions had nothing to do with him.

 Today, when I heard Kitami’s story, I realized that I had done something that I could not take back.

 No, half correctly.

 I still did not fully believe Kitami’s story.

Rather, I wanted to believe Emi.

 The look on Emi’s face back then.
Her painful attitude.

 I couldn’t believe that they were lies.

She seemed to me to be in such a deep state of distress that I could not believe that they were lies.

 I couldn’t just make her out to be a bad person.

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 But I could tell from Maika’s attitude that Kitami was not lying.

 Maika has a strong sense of justice.
I had never seen her lie.

 Moreover, she and Emi must have been quite close.

 She believed Kitami’s story.
I knew immediately that there was something to it.

 That is why I could not deny it.

 But there must be circumstances.
I told myself that, and misrepresented my own guilt.

 But once I am aware of my sins, I can’t erase them by myself.

 What should I do from now on?

 The answer did not come out even after one night.

 The answer to this question was never given, even after one night.

[Shion Sakakibara’s PoV]

As I listened to the conversation, my main thought was, “Is it me who is out of touch?”

 As the conversation progressed, my frustration grew.

 Because my senpai never got angry.

 How could he put himself in the other person’s shoes like that?

 How could he be so calm?

How could he accept such unreasonableness as if it were natural?

I had no idea.

 It was as if I was a third party.
It was like it was not about me.

 And perhaps I was right.

I was sure that he was trying to make a move for Fukushima-san’s sake.

 ”—How nice.”

 I know it’s inappropriate, but I can’t help but mutter to myself.

 Because I am out of the mosquito net.
I am a genuine outsider.

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I don’t even know why I was allowed to listen to the story.

Well, anyway, I think Senpai is somehow out of touch.

 Even though he went this far, the reason why he moves is for others.
It is not for himself.

If this continues, I’m afraid he’ll even forgive that Itakura person.

 I wonder if he is even mad at me, given his attitude today.

 I wonder why.
Is it because I don’t hate him?

On the way home, I asked Fukumura-san a little about Itakura-san, but no matter how I think about it, Itakura is the one to blame.

I mean, I thought it was just normal, and regardless of who was bullying and such, it was an over-the-top act.

 It seems that various rumors were spread, and it was just a normal crossing of the line.
She was out of the game.

 And yet, and yet.

He let it slide with a blank expression on his face.
He didn’t show any anger.

On the contrary, he doesn’t complain even though the situation is directly in front of his eyes.

 If it had been me, in a situation like that, with so many allies, and with someone I hated right in front of me, I would have said what I was thinking, or showered them with anger or something.

 Or, even today, I would have.

Am I somehow out of touch for thinking so?

 Surely that may be a virtue.
Maybe that is what is good about senpai.

 But I couldn’t believe that it was “right” at all.

He should be greedy.
He should ask for more from himself.

“Is it annoying?”

I wish I could make him do so.
Want to let him be more selfish.

 This is my selfishness.
It’s not a sense of justice or anything of that magnitude.

 I want to.
I want to be there for him.

 I thought about it a lot, but in the end I thought…

 —I love senpai like that.

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