Chapter 4

It’s been a while since I successfully wrapped up the birthday date with Shirakawa-san. I was happy that Shirakawa-san was pleased with it, and I was living a smooth school life.

That was when it happened.

I began to feel a slight change in the atmosphere surrounding Shirakawa-san.

I was a Shirakawa-san watcher before we started dating and before I realized it, I naturally chased Shirakawa-san with my eyes even after we started dating.

That’s why I was sensitive to the atmosphere surrounding her.

Shirakawa-san was friendly and well-liked by everyone, but of course, there’s also some in the class who didn’t have the courage to talk to her. Just like how I was until a while ago.

The first change I noticed was those classmates becoming more conscious of Shirakawa-san than usual.

“Did you hear it…. About Shirakawa-san”

“Ah, yeah”

“Do you think that’s true?”

“Who knows….”

In that manner, they started whispering behind her back more than usual.

The next change was the middle classes within class’s hierarchy, who usually were able to talk to Shirakawa-san normally, but not particularly close to her.

They began sending Shirakawa-san curious glances.

“Hey, did you hear those rumors?”

“Yeah. You should ask her if it’s true”

“Nuh-huh, as expected, asking her directly is impossible”

“I know, right~”

….What the hell is going on?

Because of those suspicions, I kept an eye on Shirakawa-san’s surroundings more than usual.

Then, a guy caught my attention.

He was the soccer guy who had been talking to her a lot lately.

“Got a minute?”

One day in the middle of break time, he said that to her and led Shirakawa-san out of the classroom.

“Eh? What’s the matter?”

Although she looked puzzled, Shirakawa-san followed him.

The place they headed to was an empty classroom nearby.

I hurriedly chased after them and through the gap on the door, I peered to see what’s going on inside. If the soccer guy tries anything strange, I’m ready to jump out at any moment.

“So, what is it?”

Shirakawa-san was smiling without any tension. The fact that she doesn’t change her attitude towards either men or women is what I think so wonderful about her. When I observed my classmates, I noticed there are surprisingly few people like that, though.

The soccer guy then spoke to her.

“Would you like to date me?”

“….!?”

I was so shocked my eyes went white.

I had a feeling that might be the case, but I knew it, you’re really aiming for Shirakawa-san….

I wonder how Shirakawa-san will reply.

With that thought, I gulped down my saliva.

“I have a boyfriend. Sorry”

She told him indifferently.

“Eh!?”

The soccer guy was surprised.

“But I heard from Akari that you’re free recently, though”

“Ah…. true, I didn’t tell Akari about it”

To Shirakawa-san with a bitter smile, the soccer guy asked with an even more bitter face.

“…. Your boyfriend, who is it? Someone from this school?”

I was spooked.

With an awkward “Ah….”, Shirakawa-san’s expression stiffened.

“….A secret”

No, that’s like saying “He’s in this school” isn’t it!

“Who? From which club?”

As you might’ve expected, the soccer guy pressed in.

“Isn’t it fine with that”

Shirakawa-san was trying to hide it, but he’s not backing down at all.

“Why can’t you just tell me? Is he the kind of person you don’t want to tell people about?”

The soccer guy’s words startled me.

Of course, it’s me who asked Shirakawa-san not to mention me.

But, maybe in her heart, Shirakawa-san is embarrassed to tell him that I’m her boyfriend. If you were a cheery handsome guy like him, certainly, from the sidelines he’d look like a match for Shirakawa-san, wouldn’t he….

As I thought that, I became a little depressed again.

“Wrong”

Shirakawa-san spoke.

“I don’t mind at all telling you, but he’s very shy, you see. That’s why, he doesn’t really wanna tell people that we’re dating”

“What the heck?”

However, the soccer guy wasn’t convinced.

“Is there even a guy who doesn’t wanna tell people that he’s dating Runa? I doubt it but maybe…. like the totally uncool guy in class?”

I got startled when he guessed it right.

“But well, I guess there’s no way Runa will date a guy like that…. Hey, can you at least tell me his club? He’s not from our club, right?”

“Yep, not on the soccer club”

“Then the basketball club?”

“No”

“Tennis club?”

“Nuh-uh”

Heeey, Shirakawa-san! It’s going to be the splendid getting-exposed-pattern if you end up saying “A secret” right after he guesses correctly!

Please notice this!

“Maybe, the go-home club?”

“Nnnn, I wonder? A secret!”

“….The go-home club, huh”

Seee~!

Splendid, the soccer guy ended up arriving at the right answer.

“If he’s not in a club, then isn’t he not doing anything. What good is a guy like that?”

Nevertheless, it irritated when he put club activities as if it’s all humanity is about.

“But well, I understand why Runa doesn’t want to say it. You’d be too embarrassed to tell people you’re dating a guy that boring, won’t you”

You’re really running your mouth there, soccer guy…..

It might be perhaps just my retaliation for being slighted, but if he runs his mouth to that extent it starts to piss me off.

At the same time, I can’t completely deny what he said, and I loathe myself for my lack of confidence.

I think that’s right. I think a guy like that soccer guy will be a more suitable boyfriend for Shirakawa-san. It’s frustrating looking at them like this, but they look good together.

Shirakawa-san also.. might think the same. I mean, all of her ex-boyfriends must’ve been these cheery handsome guys, after all….

It’s painful to think about such things.

“No, like I said, I don’t mind telling you, you know. I told you that earlier, though”

Shirakawa-san calmly replied back to the soccer guy.

“Even if he’s in the go-home club, I think he’s a nice person. I mean, I’m in the go-home club too”

“Eh, well….”

To the soccer guy who looked trying to make an excuse so it’d not appear as belittling her, Shirakawa-san interrupted him at that moment.

”I don’t think my boyfriend is boring. I’m also the one who decided to date him. But, since he doesn’t wanna tell people about it, I wanna respect his feelings”

When she said this, Shirakawa-san wore a kind smile overflowing with kindheartedness.

“Even if the whole world knows I’m dating him, I won’t be embarrassed”

Shirakawa-san….

My chest became hot. I was welled up with the feelings of love for her for saying that to the soccer guy.

What a fine girlfriend she is. She’s truly the most wonderful girl in the world to the point she’s wasted on me.

I’m ashamed of myself that I was taken in by the words of the soccer guy and thought “Shirakawa-san probably doesn’t want to tell him that she’s dating me”, even if just for just a moment.

I can’t believe that Shirakawa-san, to other people…. moreover to a handsome guy who confessed to her, that she would speak of me in this way.

I think…. I can be more confident, can I. As “Shirakawa-san’s boyfriend”. Becoming more confident for the fact that.. Shirakawa-san chose me.

It was at that time I was thinking like that.

“I get it…. Then, the next time you want to switch from that guy, make sure it’s to me”

The soccer guy said with a nasty smile.

“You’re going to let him spend a lot of money on you, and when he gets broke you’re going to switch to another guy, right?”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“Everyone’s talking about it, you know. Sure, if he’s in the go-home club he can do part-time job, so I guess he has some money, huh”

“Huuh!?”

Shirakawa-san looked angry but the soccer guy smiled nastily and left behind the classroom just like that. I hurriedly moved away from the door, and played the role of a passerby who happened to be passing by in the hallway.

Then, I overheard the conversation of my classmates who were hanging out in the hallway.

“Did you know? About Shirakawa Runa….”

“Yeah, I heard. The one about her being a black-hearted bitch who conveniently uses her boyfriend then switches him?”

“But, if she’s that cute she’d be let off the hook, don’t you think”

“I wanna get laid and dumped too!”

One of them shouted in a joking manner and the other guys laughed.

A separate group of girls were also talking about Shirakawa-san.

“I wonder if Shirakawa-san’s boyfriend had a lot of money?”

“I was in the same class as her last year, but I don’t know what kind of person Shirakawa-san’s boyfriend was, you know. I think she was dating like, someone from another school or a university student”

“Fuun. But, it lasted only for two or three months, right?”

“She’s so pretty, but to think she lasted with one person only for several months….”

“I was wondering if that’s really the case, so I believe the rumors”

“Ah, crap”

Then, one of the girls looked this way and became flustered, and the girls walked into the classroom.

I turned around and there I found Shirakawa-san coming out of the empty classroom. She was stunned, perhaps after overhearing the rumors about herself.

“Shirakawa-san….”

When I instinctively approached her and called out to her, Shirakawa-san noticed me and smiled.

“Ryuuto”

Then, she spoke to me as I was about to say something to her.

“I wonder what happened, looks like there’s weird rumors going around”

“Yeah… Who the hell is doing such a….”

“It’s alright!”

She spoke up as if to interrupt my words and Shirakawa-san smiled brightly.

“Rumors are just rumors. I’m not bothered by it at all, okay”

After saying that, she walked past me and returned back to the classroom.

Her back that looked unusually vulnerable made my heart ache.

“What the hell are these rumors. Who the hell’s spreading it around….?”

Shirakawa-san is just letting her boyfriend spend money on her and when he runs out of money she goes to the next guy?

“No she doesn’t….”

I know that better than anyone.

──Can I have this? I think it’s nice to have.

Shirakawa-san who smiled happily when she received a handmade map not even worth a hundred Yen as her birthday present.

──I give it to you. This one’s for Ryuuto

Shirakawa-san who spent her own allowance to buy me a phone case matching hers.

There’s no way she’s going to date someone for his money.

In the first place, if she was looking for money, she wouldn’t date a gloomy guy who looks like he doesn’t even have any money like me. Though it’s sad to say it myself.

Who the hell’s the one spreading these baseless rumors?

Absolutely unforgivable.

I thought so from the bottom of my heart.

At the same time these rumors were going around, Kurose-san’s popularity in class was soaring rapidly.

“Kurose-san is so nice~”

At break time, the guys were talking about her somewhere in the classroom.

I understood the reason why after observing Kurose-san for a bit.

At the time after the lesson was over and it became break time, Kurose-san dropped her notebook. The guy diagonally behind me tried to pick it up and give it to her. Then, as she got up from her seat and tried to pick up the notebook, she touched the arm of the guy who had picked it up.

“Ah, I’m sorry…. Thanks”

From a low position, slightly bent over, she gazed up at him with upturned eyes.

“N-no problem, at all”

That guy turned bright red and averted his eyes.

Also, on a certain day.

I and Kurose-san were both on class duty because of our seating order. Right after the morning homeroom, the teacher asked me to carry the health observation files for all the students to the staff room.

“Let’s split it in half between us”

Although it’s for all the students, it’s just paper files with several sheets of paper in between for recording purposes so its weight wasn’t all that much. I thought it’d be better if I took the guys’ part and Kurose-san the girls’ part since there were more guys than girls, however.

“Nnnn, heavy~….”

With troubled brows, Kurose-san began to walk staggeringly.

“Eh? That so?”

Certainly, it looked heavy when the small Kurose-san was carrying the bulky load, however, it happened when I thought it shouldn’t have been the case.

“I’ll carry it”

A guy in the class called out to her and took the file for Kurose-san.

“Huh? This ain’t heavy at all”

“Eh, really?”

Kurose-san looked surprised.

“Saitou-kun is very strong, isn’t’ he. It’s too heavy for a girl~”

“Oh yeaah?”

Saitou had an unconcerned, complacent look on his face, and just like that carried the files until the staff room.

Thus, Saitou who had become empty handed went ahead of us and disappeared. It was at the time after I and Kurose-san had finished reporting it to the teacher, and were on our way back to the classroom.

“When we’re in class duty, we have to write down a daily log before leaving, right?”

Kurose-san asked, then I nodded.

“Right”

She then made a troubled face.

“Today I.. have a bit of business to do after school, don’t I…. What should I do….”

“It’s fine to just write the daily log as you see fit, it’ll probably take two minutes”

If it’s me from the first year of middle school I’d probably say “I’ll write it down for you” with enthusiasm. Just like Saitou who picked up her notebook.

But this girl, she’s surely that kind of girl, isn’t she. Stimulating the desire to protect from men or rather, how should I put this, she unconsciously acts in a way that makes them feel that way…. I’m not the only one who’s special.

With the bitterness of getting rejected once and my strong feelings for Shirakawa-san, I’m able to act calmly towards Kurose-san now.

“….”

Kurose-san looked down and was silent for a few moments.

“….Tsk”

Eeh!? Just now, did she just click her tongue!?

It-it must be my imagination….

As I was thinking about this, Kurose-san raised her face.

“Kashima-kun, do you.. still have a grudge against me after all….?”

Her large eyes were moist just like chihuahua’s and I unconsciously panicked.

“Eeeh!? About what?”

“Because in the past, I didn’t respond to Kashima-kun’s feelings…. Was I being mean?”

“Nuh-uh, that’s not the case at all, really!”

Eh? Why is she saying all this now? Because she can’t undertake writing down the daily log?

“Fine, I’ll write it down for you”

If I made Kurose-san cry I could be ganged up by the guys, so I hurriedly said that.

“Really?”

Kurose-san’s face suddenly brightened and smiled innocently.

“Kashima kun is.. really kind….”

She slowly blinked her eyes, suggestively, and afterwards she looked over here and staring at me with upturned eyes.

“I like.. a person like that”

“Eh….”

I unconsciously made a voice because now, it didn’t come insured with “maybe”.

Okay, calm down. She’s just this kind of girl, and I already have Shirakawa-san too.

As if enjoying my inner turmoil, Kurose-san smiled seeming satisfied.

“But, it’s all right. I’ll write the daily log too”

“Eh?”

“Later then”

I couldn’t help but follow her back with my eyes with a confused feeling as she walked away briskly on her own.

“The hell is that….”

That’s when it happened.

I felt eyes on me, I turned around and found Shirakawa-san standing there.

“Ah, Ryuuto….”

Shirakawa-san looked around with an unusually serious face. After she checked that no one would see, she took a step towards me and opened her mouth.

“Class duty work?”

“Yeah”

“….With, Kurose-san?”

“Ye-yeah”

“Are you okay?”

“Eh?”

Am I okay she said, but about what…. and as I was thinking that, Shirakawa-san took another step towards me and spoke in a hushed voice.

“I have.. something I have to tell Ryuuto….”

“Nn? What is it?”

Then when I asked her back.

“Ah, Runa is there!”

“We’ve been looking for you! What are you doing?”

From the opposite side of the hallway, a group of a good-looking girls called out to Shirakawa-san, and she got startled.

“Ah…. Okay!”

After replying back to those girls, she looked at me apologetically.

“I’m sorry, Ryuuto. Maybe next time….”

“It’s fine, just go”

I saw Shirakawa-san off and once again, I became alone.

 ──I have… something I have to tell Ryuuto….

“….I wonder what it is?”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Shirakawa-san’s face like that before.

There’s been bad rumors spreading around lately, so maybe it’s related to that.

Even after the next class started, the thing Shirakawa-san was about to tell me bothered me and I ended up brooding about this and that indefinitely.

After school that day.

In the classroom where most of my classmates still remained, I received the daily log from Kurose-san next to me.

“Here, Kashima-kun”

When I looked at it, the section for today was exactly half filled and the content was also well written.

What. Isn’t this flawless….

“Then, I’ll write mine down and submit it, so you can go home first”

She had said she had some business to do so I told her that but, “That aside, did you hear?”, she said that to me and leaned forward.

“Eh, about what?”

“Shirakawa-san’s true nature”

“Eh….”

I was so surprised I became stiff.

Shirakawa-san was still in the classroom, happily chatting with Yamana-san and the others.

Perhaps, it’s about the rumors.

As I remained silent, Kurose-san leaned her body this way with a face filled with delight.

“You see, the junior of my onee-chan was Shirakawa-san’s ex-boyfriend”

I felt a burst of ache deep within my chest.

Shirakawa-san’s ex-boyfriend.

I usually try not to think about it but when that word comes out that smoothly, I’m reminded that they really exist in this world.

“….and that, what’s it about?”

I asked her while barely able to keep my calm, and Kurose-san smiled, looking satisfied that I’ve taken an interest.

“That person.. he said he was very worn out when he dated Shirakawa-san. She pushes men around for her own convenience and thinks men are supposed to be the one paying for a date, anyway she’s selfish, he said”

The first thing that popped up in my mind when I heard that was a big question mark.

“….That, are you sure it’s about Shirakawa-san?”

Kurose-san nodded vigorously to my question.

“Of course. The ex-boyfriend said it himself, so I’m pretty sure”

“….”

If that’s really the case, then the ex-boyfriend is lying.

Because, there’s no way Shirakawa-san would do such a thing.

──How much was it? I’ll pay for mine

Even on the birthday date for her, Shirakawa-san tried to pay for her drink as a matter of course. It’s unthinkable that such a girl thinks men are supposed to be the one paying for a date.

Moreover, selfish he said? Shirakawa-san is a girl who cares about her boyfriend like me, and tries to make him happy.

However, now I know the source of the unsavory rumors about Shirakawa-san that has been circulating lately.

“Kurose-san”

“Nn? What’s the matter?”

Perhaps not noticing my tone of voice hidden with anger, Kurose-san was still looking at me in a good mood.

“Those rumors, have you talked to anyone else about it?”

“Eh?”

Perhaps now noticing the change in me, Kurose-san’s expression stiffened slightly.

“Why? Hm-hmm…. I forgot. But, because that’s a fact, don’t you think everyone should know about it?”

“….”

I don’t know if the ex-boyfriend was lying or Kurose-san was lying, but her merrily going around spreading such unsavory rumors pised me off.

Without knowing my inner irritation, Kurose-san tried to continue the conversation.

“Shirakawa-san is very popular, right?  That’s why.. she keeps a stock of guys she could date next, and switches him when he runs out of money, he said. How scary~”

After she said that, Kurose-san looked to the rear with a frightened face. Over there was Shirakawa-san chatting happily as usual.

When I saw that carefree, cute smile, the blaze of anger in me rapidly burned brighter.

“You see, Shirakawa-san has actually another….”

“Don’t bad mouth Shirakawa-san any further”

At the sound of my voice, the chatters in class stopped for a moment.

It seems like I was speaking louder than I thought I was. Or perhaps they’re surprised that a gloomy guy like me was saying Shirakawa-san’s name.

“N-no way, what’s wrong Kashima-kun”

Kurose-san looked impatient.

“What Kurose-san’s saying is not true. Shirakawa-san is not that kind of girl”

When I said that, Kurose-san talked back without hiding her annoyance anymore.

“There’s no way it’s not true. I heard it directly from her ex-boyfriend after all”

“Then, that ‘ex-boyfriend’ is lying”

My classmates in the classroom were looking at me and Kurose-san arguing with eyes wondering if something’s happening.

However, it doesn’t matter now.

I just want to correct the wrong opinion of Shirakawa-san.

All I had in my mind was that thought.

“Shirakawa-san is not that kind of girl. She’s a kind girl who cares for her boyfriend so greatly, she’d rather do what makes her boyfriend happy than herself”

Hearing this, the corners of Kurose-san’s mouth raised ill-naturedly.

It’s my first time seeing this look….

I felt I saw her true nature in her face, and a shiver ran down my spine.

“What’s that, a delusion? I know her ex-boyfriend in person, you know?”

“I also.. know her boyfriend in person”

I can’t back down from this, and I also don’t want to back down.

I want to clear up the misunderstanding. I want to correct the groundless bad opinion of Shirakawa-san.

With that in mind, I continued.

“Shirakawa-san is a good girl. She’s the kind of girl who will give her boyfriend a matching item as a surprise present for anniversary, and the kind of girl who would be happy receiving a handmade shopping map if her boyfriend ran out of money and couldn’t buy her a birthday present”

Remembering our date, my chest was burning.

“Shirakawa-san is not selfish. Always thinking about her boyfriend and caring for him, she’s the best girlfriend”

Hearing my words, Kurose-san raised the corners of her eyes.

“Huh? This ‘boyfriend’, just who the heck is he? Does he really exist? If you can say it, just say it”

“….”

“See, you can’t sa….”

“I’ll say it”

I could hear the roaring of my heart in my ears.

“I am Shirakawa-san’s boyfriend”

For a moment, the inside of the classroom became deadly silent.

I said it.

Even though I was so afraid of being found out.

In this way, I’ve made public that I’m dating Shirakawa-san….

After an ear-splitting silence, there was a quiet stir.

“Huuh….?”

“What is he talking about, that guy”

“Heey, he’s saying all that stuff, but is it true?”

The majority of people didn’t seem to believe it, but among them was a frivolous person of the class who asked Shirakawa-san for fun.

“Is he really your boyfriend?”

“Eh….”

At the sound of that confused voice, I turned to look behind me.

Shirakawa-san was looking over here with a surprised face. In the midst of this uproar, which had the attention of the whole class, she must’ve heard everything I just said.

Then, she nodded while still confused.

“…..yep”

“Eh!?”

He himself was the one who asked, but the frivolous guy was surprised.

“That’s a lie right? You’re joking, right?”

“No”

Turning to our frozen classmates, Shirakawa-san muttered softly.

“I’m dating him”

““““““““Eeeeeeeeeehh~~~~~!?””””””””

There at last, a plethora of roars broke out.

“How’s that possible!? Why with a dull guy like Kashima!?”

“So Runa dates thay type too!?”

Everyone expressed their surprise to each and every person.

“Unexpected….This really is too surprising”

“Why? Was there even any connection…..?”

Thus, after the initial shock, someone who became oddly excited among them, mainly guys, appeared.

“If Kasima can do it, then that means I maybe can do it too, right!?”

“I thought she’d only date high-spec good-looking guys, so I’d given up until now, though”

“Woooah~ ain’t she a super good girl! I’m liking her more and more”

“The next time she’s free I’ll give it a shot, shall I!?”

“There’s a chance, right!?”

At the same time, cold stares were poured on Kurose-san.

“If she treats a boyfriend like Kashima well, that means Kurose-san’s story’s just nonsense, huh”

“Wasn’t the ex-boyfriend just bad mouthing her as revenge for getting dumped?”

“Rather, that story itself, perhaps could be a made-up story by Kurose-san….”

“True…. Until now, I’ve also never heard anything like that about Shirakawa-san”

“Wha-what…..”

Suddenly becoming the center of attention from our classmates, Kurose-san, who was at a disadvantage, had her forehead sweating.

“I really did hear about it….”

She appealed with both hands clenched into tight fists.

However, realizing that insisting was not going to make her look better, she quickly got up from her seat.

“You’re terrible! I’m never saying anything like lies!”

She shouted with her large eyes full of tears and she ran out into the corridor with such vigor.

“He….Hey!”

There’s still something I want to ask of her. Like how she could spread such a lie to everyone.

Why it was Shirakawa-san.

I have to ascertain that.

With that in mind, I chased Kurose-san and flew out of the classroom still whirling with eyes of curiosity.

Kurose-san ran past the hallway, and stopped in the middle of the small staircase leading to the rooftop.

“…..hic…. hics….

She’s shaking her shoulders, sobbing heavily, and wiping her eyes with both hands. Looks like she’s not faking crying, but she’s actually crying.

“Kurose-sa….”

“Don’t come!”

When I tried to approach her, I was fiercely rebuked.

“….Why did you come here…. You don’t even like me…. Why don’t you just stay with that woman”

“….”

What the hell is going on here….

“….I wonder if you can tell me. Like why are you doing something like this”

When she had calmed down from crying, I started to talk to her from the bottom of the staircase and Kurose-san plopped down on the staircase while covering her face.

“‘Something like this’, you said, which something”

“About spreading bad rumors about Shirakawa-san”

When I said that, Kurose-san’s crying loudly again.

“Waaan! You’re really, awful. Shirakawa-san this, Shirakawa-san that, all you do is talk about that woman…. in the past you used to like me too!”

Wh-what is she saying?

“….Right now I’m dating Shirakawa-san, so isn’t it obvious?”

“I don’t like that!”

Kurose-san shouted just like a spoiled child.

“I want to be liked by everyone. I wanna be the number one for everyone!”

“Bu….. but”

While being somewhat overwhelmed, I tried to give an objection.

“Even if you’re liked by everyone, you can only date one guy, right? What is the point of doin….”

“I won’t date!”

My words were interrupted by Kurose-san.

“I just wanna be liked by everyone. So I’ve never dated anyone or anything”

As she said this, her eyes were welled up with tears again.

“I wanna be the number one…. A girl who is not the first won’t be chosen. I don’t wanna that woman to take anything away from me anymore….”

“….What are you talking about? Do you and Shirakawa-san know each other since before….?”

When I asked this, large tears spilled out from Kurose-san’s eyes. Looking down as if ashamed of this, Kurose-san quietly opened her mouth.

“Shirakawa Runa is…. my elder twin sister”

When I heard this, I felt a shock like a lightning bolt struck my whole body.

“Eeeh!?”

I looked at Kurose-san to see if she’s joking, but she just stared back hard at me with a resentful face.

“You’re lying, right? I mean….”

The outside and inside don’t look alike at all. The cuteness, they’re both cute but…. When I was thinking about that, Kurose-san smiled self-deprecatingly.

“We don’t look alike, right? Because we’re fraternal twins. I’m more like dad, and that woman is more like mom”

“….Is that true?”

“I don’t wanna tell you such a revolting lie. I can’t believe I’m sharing the same blood as that bitch”

“But, the family names….”

“Our parents divorced when we’re in the fifth year of elementary school, I changed my family name to mom’s, and that woman always keeps dad’s family name. I only started in the same school with Kashima-kun in middle school, so you don’t know me when I was ‘Shirakawa Maria’. I moved to mom’s house, so I changed school and didn’t have any classmates when I was a ‘Shirakawa’ too”

When she puts it like that, I feel like it’s starting to make sense.

Around the time we were in the same class, I heard a rumor that Kurose-san’s mother was a single mother. There were some students who’re like that so I didn’t think it’s anything special.

If I remember correctly, besides her mom, she lives together with her grandpa and grandma. Because it’s about the girl I used to like, I somehow still remember it even now.

And then, Kurosen-san changed her school when we were in the second year of middle school. I was in a different class but I heard by chance from her classmates talking about her mom getting remarried, and she was going to live in Chiba because of her new dad.

‘….Huh?“

But, come to think of it, her family name is…. still the “Kurose” I knew. I was trying to not think about Kurose-san too much, so I never wondered about it until now though….

“Mom, split last month…. That’s why, I returned to grandpa’s name”

As if anticipating my thought, Kurose-san told me.

I looked hard at her once again.

“….Are you really…. Shirakawa-san’s younger sister….?”

“Like I said, I’m telling you I am”

Kurose-san muttered that reluctantly.

At that moment, I remembered.

──I have.. something I have to tell Ryuuto….

This is perhaps.. the thing she was about to tell me earlier.

Plus, she also talked about her family before….

──Well, it’s a good thing the sisters didn’t get separated.

──Eh….?

And the surprised face of hers at that time.

──Ah, yep. Well, I guess so….

And the unnatural reaction of hers after that.

That was, probably because she was thinking about Kurose-san.

“The eldest elder sister and Shirakawa-san were taken by your dad, and you were taken by your mom?”

When I asked her, Kurose-san bit her lips.

“…. I…. really wanted to live together with dad”

Once again, her eyes welled up with tears and immediately after, a drop fell from one of her eyes then absorbed by the skirt on her lap.

“I and Runa, both of us loved dad. But, one of us had to leave home to go with mom. My eldest elder sister was already in in her third year of high school and already got a job, and was told she could do as she liked, but we since we still needed help and money from our parents, our parents had a talk and it looks like it’s decided to be this way”

She told me that, then Kurose-san wiped her tears and sniffled.

“I wanted to be with dad. But…. the one dad chose was, Runa”

Kurose-san’s face became distorted and tears were shed.

“Runa was good at getting others to spoil her, so she was doted on by everyone in the family. And dad too, he loved Runa more than me….”

Her face as she talked contained an uncontrollable sadness.

“Because I was a quiet girl…. I wasn’t very good at conveying my feelings, and also bad at making others like me. But, I thought that I had to change myself”

Kurose-san looked down with a contemplating look on her face.

“If you don’t become a loved girl, you can’t become happy. You have to be number one. If you’re not the first, you wouldn’t be chosen”

Her eyelids were swollen, the tips of her nose red, and her eyelashes wet…. Even in that state, Kurose-san was undeniably cute. That’s why it felt wrong to throw her away out here, and not because of that reason, but because I gradually felt more and more pity for her.

“Perhaps…. Because you want to take away the seat of the class’s most favorite, you started spreading bad rumors about Shirakawa-san?”

Hearing my question, Kurose-san nodded in silent.

“I see….”

Even with such circumstances, I don’t think what she’d done is acceptable.

However, I felt like if I leave things as is, Kurose-san wouldn’t be saved.

The Kurose-san I fell in love with in the first year of middle school and the current her now looks completely like a different person. But, I have a feeling the current her in front of me now is somehow more like the real Kurose-san.

Probably, she’s never talked about these things to other people before. She’s aiming to be liked by everyone. Because of that, she wasn’t showing anything like her bad side, wasn’t she.

In that case, I felt like I have to say something to her, to her who’s laying bare her true face right here and now.

Something that she can reflect on from the bottom of her heart.

And that will be a source of food for her thought in the future.

“….Did you ever ask why your dad chose Shirakawa-san?”

When I asked her, Kurose-san made a small nod.

“I did but, they said it’s something dad and mom had decided in their talk, and I also wasn’t given more detail”

Then she squinted her eyes as if she’s becoming sulky.

“But, I know even if I didn’t ask. Dad and mom too, they were doting on Runa more than me. They both fought for Runa”

“Such a thing is….”

Not true, though, as a total stranger I’m not sure if I can say that.

“….Both of your parents too, must’ve put many thoughts and circumstances into it, so I think your dad chose Shirakawa-san not just because of Shirakawa-san is cuter”

“….”

Kurose-san kept staring at her own lap while making an unconvinced face

“Besides, Kurose-san’s way of doing things is wrong”

Hearing my words, Kurose-san raised her face. She looked at me with eyes that said, “What are you talking about?”.

“I understand Kurose-san’s feeling of wishing to be the most loved girl. But, that means…. You want to be chosen as someone special by your dad, right? In that case, what’s the point of doing all these?”

Kurose-san’s face looked surprised as if she just realized something.

“Kurose-san didn’t date anyone, because you didn’t like anyone, right? I wonder if being liked by someone you don’t like…. ever heal the wounds of not being chosen by your father, by someone you loved?”

Kurose-san cast her eyes down and bit her lips. She looked as if she’s trying to bite down, and kill the feelings in her heart.

“From now on, instead of aiming to be the most liked by everyone, I think it’s fine if Kurose-san tries to aim to be a girl loved by a person…. by a guy someday you might meet and come to truly like”

“….”

After keeping silent and looking down for a while, Kurose-san raised her eyes and glanced this way with a scowl.

“….What do you even know”

“I don’t know but…. I have a feeling Kurose-san is similar to me”

“Huh!?”

“So-sorry…. But, will you listen to me?”

Even knowing that Kurose-san would be annoyed, I continued.

“Shirakawa-san is.. she doesn’t act like she’s trying to be liked by everyone. She just says what she thought and acts naturally, however she’s someone who can make a good impression on a lot of people by doing that. I think it’s not just because of her looks, but because of her original character, and natural born predisposition”

When I look at Shirakawa-san, I’m often surprised by how different she is from me. I think this is what you’d call “Personal Virtue”.

“Kurose-san is probably.. a type who is like, thinking about how others will see you if you say something, and thinking things through before you act because you care about others’ eyes, right? I’m the same too”

And that’s exactly why I think this, though.

“If someone like that is doing the impossible and trying to be like Shirakawa-san, they’d have to continue doing their best at it, and I think that’d be painful”

I wouldn’t be able to understand it by any means, however Kurose-san surely must have lots of thoughts regarding Shrakawa-san. Even though we’re not so far apart.

Like, how can we be so different when we’re twins.

Or, I could’ve been that way too….

“What are you even….”

‘But, you know“

I interrupted Kurose-san who was about to reply back, and continued.

“I think there are a considerable amount of people in the world who like someone like Kurose-san more than Shirakawa-san, you know”

Kurose-san kept her mouth shut with a surprised face.

“If among those people you can find a guy you can like, I think Kurose-san will be happy”

Kurose-san didn’t utter a single word for a while.

“If, you’re convinced with that…. I want you to apologize to Shirakawa-san for what happened this time”

Kurose-san was still silent. As I was about to say something more, still looking down, she spoke up.

“….I get it, so just leave me alone now”

Her voice was dark, as if she’s deeply depressed.

That’s why I can’t bring myself to walk away as is.

“Kurose-san….”

“What? Are you trying to comfort me?”

Saying that, Kuros-san raised her face and looked at me with a nasty smile.

“Just quit it. You don’t even like me. Aren’t the one you should comfort Runa”

“But….”

“It’s fine. I’m not so depressed that I need Runa’s boyfriend to comfort me. Leave!”

“….”

To continue to talk to her more than this might’ve been counterproductive at this rate.

With that thought, I reluctantly turned on my heel and left that place.

That’s why, I’ve never got to hear it

Kurose-san, who was left alone on the empty staircase, hugged her knees and muttered some words.

“….In that case, I won’t be happy again, won’t I. Of all people, I can’t believe I’m feeling this towards the guy who likes that woman the most….”

The cheeks on her sulky-like face turned a little red.

“If I’m not the one you like, I wished you wouldn’t care about me….”

As I was going back to the classroom, Shirakawa-san came flying out of the open door.

“Ryuuto!”

When I looked inside, there were still plenty of students inside and they’re looking at me with interest as I returned.

“….Fo-for the time being, shall we go home”

After I said that to Shirakawa-san, I entered the classroom, quickly picked up my bag and the daily log, stopped by the staff room, and went towards the shoe rack together with her. I was only able to write a few things in the daily log but since Kurose-san wrote hers properly, we’d get by.

“I’m sorry, I…. wasn’t able to tell Ryuuto about Maria”

As soon as we became alone, Shirakawa-san started to talk.

“Maria is, she wasn’t fond of that she’s a twin of me. But even so, it’s a mystery to me why she’d go all the way transferring to our school, though….”

What Kurose-san’s intention was, certainly, I also don’t know about it. It might be perhaps in order to harass Shirakawa-san, or….

“Perhaps, she just wants to be near Shirakawa-san”

“Eh….?”

I spoke to the surprised Shirakawa-san.

“If you hate someone so much you don’t want to even see their face, even if it’s to harass, I don’t think you also want to be in the same space with them”

“….I see”

Shirakawa-san cast her eyes down, and muttered as if she’s trying to hold it.

And then, she raised her face and looked at me.

“Thank you , Ryuuto”

When I, once again, saw her making a cute smile as she said that, I felt like she resembled Kurose-san a bit.

“But, are you fine with this? Ryuuto”

After putting on our shoes and leaving the school building, Shirakawa-san spoke to me with anxious looks.

“Ryuuto, didn’t like it if everyone knows, right?”

“Nnn…. that’s right, however”

To think the coming out was in that way, I also wasn’t expecting it.

“But, I didn’t want Shirakawa-san to be misunderstood any further”

Shirakawa-san widened her eyes at my answer.

“It’s… for my sake….?”

I could see a faint flicker rising in her eyes as she stared at me.

Shirakawa-san was in tears.

Surprised by this, she quickly wiped both of her eyes with the back of her hands in a fluster.

“Hu-huh? I wonder why”

Trying to tough it up, she smiled brightly.

“I’m.. an idiot. Things like bad rumors, I thought I didn’t care much about those things but….I wonder if.. it’s still bothering me a little?”

I really think Shirakawa-san is a strong girl. Even for her, it must’ve been hard enduring a life of being bathed by our classmates’ curious eyes day after day because of an unfounded bad reputation.

“But, I wonder what those rumors were about. I wonder if what my ex-boyfriend said about me was handed down to Maria in a strange way?”

“….Eh?”

I was surprised when I heard that.

Maybe.

Did Shirakawa-san, perhaps, not realize that those rumors were made-up stories spread by Kurose-san in order to harass Shirakawa-san?

Just how much of a good girl she is…. She’s too much of a good girl it worries me a bit.

Saying anything more than this to her now is, for the time being, let’s pass on that.

It’s better for two sisters to settle their matters between themselves. Eventually, I’m sure Kurose-san will apologize to Shirakawa-san.

I also haven’t told Shirakawa-san that the beautiful girl who rejected me in the past was Kurose-san. We’re classmates, sitting next to each other, there’s something awkward about it but…. Now that I know they’re sisters, I think I’ll reveal it as a funny story someday if they ever go back into a relationship where they can smile at each other again.

“….I guess so. Those were weird rumors, huh”

“Did Ryuuto.. not believe it? Those rumors”

I nodded my head when I was asked by Shirakawa-san there.

“I didn’t  believe it at all”

“….But you see, it’s not like Ryuuto also knows, right? About me before we started dating”

Those were also the words I have to tell myself.

The truth is, it’s not like I’m okay with that. When I think about her ex-boyfriend, my chest still hurts.

But.

“If, even if Shirakawa-san in the past was as the rumors say, she’s completely different from Shirakawa-san of today. I won’t allow such a bygone past to hurt Shirakawa-san’s reputation now”

Shirakawa-san showed a light bitter smile to me who answered seriously.

“Well, I didn’t do it though. Things like the rumors said”

“Yeah. I’m sure you didn’t”

When I smiled and nodded my head, Shirakawa-san’s smile disappeared from her face.

When I looked at her next, her cheeks appeared to be blushing a little.

“….Ryuuto is, really is weird, isn’t he”

Without asking back, I already knew that it didn’t mean anything bad.

As a proof of this, she smiled at me happily.

“Thank you, Ryuuto!”

When I saw that exceptionally cute smile of hers, it made me want to hug her.

And then it hit me.

Since the first day I started dating her until now, I have never laid a finger on Shirakawa-san.

Even though we were walking side-by-side with our shoulder almost touching like this, I didn’t know her warmth.

When I realized this fact, I felt a surge of love, but also a bit of heartache in me.



TL Notes:


Other changes:

1. On chapter 1: Runa’s hair description from “light brown” to “light-colored”

2. On chapter 3 Nikoru’s description from “Even more golden light brown hair” to “She had light-colored dyed hair that was lighter”


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