‘Yuuki Yuusuke-kun from second year class A. Please come to the reference room’
“Haah. Again, huh…”
After school. Almost everyday these past few days, Yuuki had been called via the school announcement.
“About the usual again?,” said Ootani as she packed up her belongings into her bag.
“Hmmm. That interim coach is just wasting time again then”
“How about you go in my stead, Ootani? As the pinch hitter1 Ootani”
“You know that my athleticism is godlike in reverse, don’t you?”
“Now you mentioned, you’re right… Haah”
Yuuki sighed deeply.
“So how about it, Yuuki-kun!! Do you feel like joining the baseball club?”
At the same time he entered the reference room, Yuuki was greeted by a loud voice like it’s coming from a cheering squad.
It was the baseball club’s interim coach, Shimizu Kouji.
“Haah. Like I said, I’ve told you many times that I don’t intend to,” said Yuuki in a fed up voice.
Next to Shimizu, who was sitting on a folding chair, was a male teacher past his middle age with a troubled face. This glasses-wearing timid social studies teacher held the position of the baseball club’s advisor. That said, he didn’t seem to have experience with baseball, and seemed to be mostly in charge of transportation to and from games, and miscellaneous tasks such as calling Yuuki to the reference room at the request of Shimizu.
As someone who couldn’t really say no to requests, it must be quite the hardship for him to deal with the pushy Shimizu.
“But you know, as for me, I’d like to make your talent bloom somehow. If we have you and Fujii-kun, going to the national is no longer a dream after all”
“The world is not that sweet. To begin with, Fujii isn’t the type to become enthusiastic about that kind of thing either”
“What are you saying? Is there any highschool baseball player who doesn’t want to go to the national? I’ve been there, and it’s the best stage, you know. Even Fujii-kun…”
“If that’s all you have to say, then please excuse me”
“Eh, ah, wait, Yuuki-kun!!”
“Also, please stop calling me after school from now on. I’m also busy with studying and my part-time job. Especially right now when it’s not the time for any of this”
Yuuki then left the reference room.
That’s right, right now was not the time for any of that.
Even at Yuuki’s school, there was a big event waiting for the students, with summer vacation just around the corner.
It’s the end of term exam.
For Yuuki, who was a scholarship student, it was an event where he must focus much harder on than other students.
Although he usually was studying well ahead of time, it was a hard battle where he must place within the top five in his school year without fail. He had been taking first place every time so far, but he would never know what would happen in a competition, whether it was baseball or study.
There were two weeks left. He had to push hard.
“And so, I think I’ll be spending more time in the study room at school for a while,” said Yuuki.
As usual, the two of them were holding hands and relaxing together before going to sleep.
“End of term exam, is it…”
“And I think I’ll be returning late. Sorry, Hatsushiro”
Compared to studying at home, studying at school was far more efficient as he could ask questions to the teacher at any time. Especially when it came to regular exams, where it’s a great thing that he could ask questions to the teachers who actually made the questions, as he studied more for school tests than university entrance exams.
Hatsushio was silent for a bit.
Yuuki knew that Hatsushiro valued the time she spent with Yuuki more than anything. For that reason, he thought he must say these things properly.
However, Hatsushiro then spoke in a gentle voice.
“No, it’s fine. Since you’re going to be a doctor, that much is natural, Yuuki-san… Please do your best”
“In exchange… Is it fine if I get spoiled now?”
“…Yeah, of course. Rather, saying something like that’s going to make me happy, you know”
Hatsushiro then intertwined the fingers of their connected hands, and entrusted more of her body weight.
With her snuggled up even more to him, the more Hatsushiro’s body temperature was transmitted.
“It is warm”
“Yuuki-san, please don’t mind about getting home late, and do your best… I’ll be waiting for you with a warm meal”
Then the conversation stopped, and the time flowed quietly.
In the midst of this silence, only the sound of the clock and their body temperature transmitted to each other could be felt.
Damn it. This is what I meant.
Yuuki’s mind was at its wits.
He meant this moment.
Yuuki wanted to study in the study room because of this overly comfortable time that had been built into his daily schedule ever since Hatsushiro came.
It was only something for a short time before bed at first, but now it was always like this whenever he was at home. It’s not a comfortable time only for Hatsushiro, no, we could say it’s more of a comfortable time for Yuuki than Hatsushiro. He wouldn’t say that he couldn’t win against the temptation if he studied at home, but he felt like he would get distracted.
If it’s just a normal studying, it’d be just fine without him putting in too much effort, but that was very much not all right if he were to push hard before the end of term exam.
…Haah. Two weeks, huh.
For the first time in his life, Yuuki felt bitter about the end of term exam.
…When he talked about this to Ootani, he was cut down with a single line, “You’re too maidenly you’re giving me heartburn.”
After that, Yuuki truly became the Shura of Studying.
In the morning, he arrived at school one hour earlier than usual and studied. After school, he studied in the study room until it’s completely time to leave. His part-time job hours were moved to the back for his self-study, so it’d be late at night when he got home. When he got home, he’d immediately eat dinner and sleep only. And of course, he didn’t have time to leisurely chat with Hatsushiro.
“Take care, Yuuki-san”
“Welcome home, Yuuki-san”
Hatsushiro would do housework as usual, and say to him the usual few words.
For this reason, Yuuki also encouraged himself.
DON’T SAY NOT HAVING TO FLIRT MAKE ME LONELY!!
I must study harder. Even if I make a few careless mistakes, I’m not going to give first place to anyone.
“Aah, she must be feeling lonely, Hatsushiro-chan”
It’s lunch break. A week after Yuuki had entered pre-exam mode.
It was Fujii drinking coffee milk, who had come to mingle with Ootani as usual.
“Aah, as expected you think so too, huh”
Yuuki, who had quickly finished his lunch and had opened his textbook, raised his face.
“Well, I suppose so. I think Hatsushiro-san loves you more than you think, you know,” Ootani chimed in while stuffing her mouth with a yakisoba sandwich.
“Yo-you think so? Eheh, it’s embarrassing”
Seeing Yuuki with a lax expression speaking in a lovestruck voice, “Idiot,” Ootani muttered and then sighed. Yuuki then spoke as he solved the problem he was trying solving.
“…That said, I can’t neglect my study either”
“Ooh? If it’s me I’d drop the test rather than make Shouko-chan feel lonely, you know?”
Fujii winked at Ootani.
“I’d run away from that kind of no-good man”
However, Ootani flatly rejected it.
“I mean, there’s no way I can do that. I’m a scholarship student. Even the place I’m living is covered by that, you know?,” said Yuuki.
However, “But there’s only one Shouko-chan!! You have to cherish what is irreplaceable!! SHOUKO, IS, ONLY LOVE!!”2
It was a questionable English proficiency that had scored him 90 points in the last English test.
But, well, it’s not like he couldn’t understand the feelings.
“Putting aside that idiot’s thoughtless remark for a second, how about having a chat with Hatsushiro-san for once? Even if she’s feeling lonely, she’s the kind of girl who would definitely put up with it so as not to bother you, right?”
“Ooh, and Hatsushiro-san…”
As Ootani was about to continue, she shook her head.
“…Nah, it’s not something to talk about now”
“Come on, now I’m curious”
“I’ll tell you after the exam,” said Ootani as she skillfully folded the wrapping paper of the bread she finished eating.
“Welcome home, Yuuki-san”
“I’m home, Hatsushiro”
After coming home from his part-time job, Yuuki was greeted by Hatsushiro as usual.
The time was already half past eleven at night. However, this was actually him returning earlier than usual.
“I’ve cooked dinner,” she said and smiled as usual.
“What’s the matter, Yuuki-san?”
“No, it’s nothing. Anyway let’s quickly eat dinner, I feel like dying of hunger”
“Fufu. I’ll prepare it immediately, so please wait a moment”
After Yuuki took a shower and changed into his loungewear, he found curry served on a large platter on the table.
“I ended up making a pretty large serving, but would you be okay?”
“Yeah, thanks. Time to eat”
Yuuki immediately took a bite of the curry.
“…As expected, Hatsushiro’s curry really is the best”
“Oh, please. You eat it all the time,” said Hatsushiro, who, holding spoon in hand, hadn’t started eating herself, and happily watched Yuuki eat.
“Yeah, it tastes like usual. But that’s why it’s so good”
Hatsushiro’s special curry, with vegetables simmered to a pulp, had the flavor of its ingredients well blended with the curry sauce, giving the impression of a refreshing, but not bland taste. That was also the usual taste he had been eating many times over recently.
Yuuki took a sip of water, and then spoke.
“And it’s not just because of your cooking. It’s because you keep doing housework, saying ‘take care’ when I go out, and saying ‘welcome home’ when I return, I feel like I can do my best. I’m really thankful for it, Hatsushiro”
“I-I’m going to get embarrassed if you thanked me that much”
“…Say, Hatsushiro. Are you maybe forcing yourself to put up with it?,” Yuuki asked, looking straight into Hatsushiro’s eyes.
He had been thinking of various ways to have her tell him about it naturally, but as expected, it didn’t suit him to go on about it in a roundabout way so much. Hatsushiro then spoke while touching her hair with her right hand.
“No, that’s not… I’m just doing what I usually do after all”
Hatsushiro was wearing her usual smile.
“I see. If I’m mistaken then it’s fine”
Well, because she’s touching her hair with her right hand, I know she has something she wants to say but can’t, though. What to do…
“Umm, Yuuki-san. I’m really doing fine, so please focus on studying for the exam…,” said Hatsushiro apologetically.
Uhuh, continuing the conversation like this, on the contrary, means she’s really not doing fine, Yuuki thought. For Hatsushiro, the most painful thing would probably be to have her own issues shaved down Yuuki’s study time. Precisely because she understood just how important studying for exams was for Yuuki, she was thinking that she must not let him lose focus because of herself.
She’s really a kind and good girl. Honestly.
However, as for Yuuki, if he just left Hatsushiro alone as she was right now, on the contrary, he’d most likely be not able to concentrate on studying. At the moment Yuuki was wondering what to do, he saw reference books placed beside the monitor. Those were from Yuuki’s first year.
Since Yuuki wouldn’t use them now, Hatsushiro was probably using them. It seemed that Hatsushiro spent a fair amount of time studying using those while Yuuki was at school.
…I think that might be good.
“Hey, Hatsushiro. I’m thinking of studying for a bit before going to sleep, but do you want to join me?”
“…Eh? But isn’t it better to do it at school as much as possible”
“I just thought I’d change things up a bit… Is that not good?”
Hatsushiro looked a bit troubled.
However, “…Then, if it’s not inconveniencing you, please allow me to study with you,” she said, nodding her head slowly.
In the midst of silence, the sound of a ticking clock and the sound of mechanical pencil running through paper resounded.
Yuuki was reviewing his math notes, while Hatsushiro was working on a collection of questions for English reading comprehension.
Yuuki was doing his own studying while glancing at Hatsushiro.
The movement of Hatsushiro’s pen, who was sitting on the floor with a straight back and good posture, was pretty seamless. Not as seamless as Yuuki, but she wrote down the answers in her notebook with ease.
“…I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but you’re pretty good at studying, huh, Hatsushiro”
What Hatsushiro was answering now was a collection of questions with considerable difficulty. It’s not something that a first-year student, Hatsushiro, should normally be able to solve with ease. The prestigious all girls high school Hatsushiro had a relatively high standard score, but even so, there probably weren’t many people capable of going this far.
“I’m not at the same level as you, Yuuki-san, but all I ever did was studying after all”
“Is that so? Aah, you don’t even have a phone, and you played a game for the first time only when you came here after all, right”
“Yes. I went to school, once it’s done, I immediately went home, then did housework, and studied… It’s not much different from now, isn’t it? It feels a little bit strange that I haven’t been going to school, though”
“That’s why, I’m used to taking my time studying alone,” said Hatsushiro, smiling at Yuuki.
She’s still touching her own hair. The words she said just now in order to not worry Yuuki were lies… Not. It was probably not a lie, but it would probably mean there was the truth she didn’t tell.
…Nonetheless, it’s not something I can force her to say, Yuuki thought. That’s just like how Yuuki himself didn’t ask Hatsushiro about her past. Something like this is best to talk about when you want to talk about it, he thought.
However, “Hey, Hatsushiro. Earlier you said that you’re just doing what you usually do, so you’re saying it’s not so much to be thanked for, right?”
“But you know what, Hatsushiro, I do think that you’re ‘doing things as usual’ is a pretty amazing thing, you know?”
Just like Ootani had said, there are certainly people who have things they want to say, but they can’t quite do it, and I know that my girlfriend is that kind of girl. At the very least, I want to make it easy for her to talk.
“It’s not really a surprise at all to find someone who’s always saying selfish things doing what they usually do. And aren’t you always being considerate of your surroundings, Hatsushiro. If it’s me, if I have something to say, I’d say it immediately, that’s why I think you’re really amazing. The fact that you’re going about as usual like this is really helping me”
Yuuki then continued after a brief interval.
“But you know, I think that’s you putting up with it till the end. That’s why… just a little bit, I want you to be selfish. It doesn’t mean that I can respond to all of it, but I will respond to it as much as I can”
And then Yuuki looked down at his notebook again and concentrated on his own studying.
Afterwards for a short while, Hatsushiro, frozen still while holding her pen, stared intently at Yuuki as he studied.
“So, in the end you couldn’t hear about Hatsushiro-san’s feelings, is that right”
On the next day early in the morning.
Yuuki, who had arrived at school first and was studying, talked about the matter of yesterday with Ootani who had arrived.
“From what I’ve heard, isn’t it obvious she’s feeling lonely. How about you cut back on your study time and make time for Hatsushiro-san?”
“Nuh-uh, there’s no way I can do that. If I do that, Hatsushiro would get worried that she’s inconveniencing me”
“…Haah. Being too much of a good girl is also problematic,” said Ootani exasperatedly.
“But well, on the contrary, I think I’ve moved forward”
Certainly, Yuuki’s expression was different from the one of the other day, it was one without hesitation.
“If Hatsushiro is that considerate about me, then I’ll gratefully reciprocate, and focus on my study. And so…”
Yuuki then clenched his fist tightly, and spoke with determination.
“I’M GOING TO TAKE ONE DAY BREAK AFTER THE EXAM!!”
“Yeah, I’m going to take a break from my work and studying on that day. On that day I’m always going to be together with Hatsushiro. And so, umm, if I then invite her to a date or something… do you think she would be happy? I really hope she would, though”
Ootani made an indescribable face as if she had just chugged down a glass full of gum syrup, she sighed, and then got up from her seat.
“Hmm? What’s wrong, Ootani”
“I got myself a bit of heartburn so I’m going to get myself a black coffee”
What’s that supposed to mean?, Yuuki wondered, tilting his head.
The day of the end of term exam came.
Some were trembling in fear, some were enthusiastic, determined to get good scores this time, some were rubbing their eyes from playing games all night yesterday, chalking it up as if it was something that had nothing to do with them.
And finally, the man who had been making it to the first place in the last periodic exam, Yuuki Yuusuke, was, “…The time has come.”
He was glaring at the question paper that had been distributed face down on his desk.
“Now come, I’ll twist and smash you down…”
It was an unthinkable line coming from someone who was about to take an end of term exam, but no one could make a comment in front of his enthusiasm and fighting spirit gushing out from his whole body. He sat down hard on his wooden chair with his eyes wide open, completely looking like a dignified commander, who was about to depart for a decisive war.
“Okay, then please begin”
Together with the voice of the proctor, Yuuki turned over the question paper.
And then the enemies (questions) appeared. One-question-one-answer questions, fill-in-the-blank questions, essay-type questions. A wide variety of soldiers attacked Yuuki.
SWOOSH!! Yuuki grabbed his great sword (mechanical pencil) and charged at the crowd of enemy soldiers.
“Hmph, you aggressively lined up questions that are more difficult than usual… However, I’m afraid to say that I’ve already trampled down you bastards”
The scope of the questions covered in the exam was, already, repeatedly memorized, and embedded into his body and mind.
Each time Yuuki swung his greatsword (mechanical pencil), the questions were answered in succession. Yuuki, who understood the collection of questions so well to the point he could understand the intention of the question maker, was unfazed even by the nasty trick questions that were put in half for fun by the teacher who made the exam.
What’s more, Yuuki’s physical condition was far better than it had been on the previous exam. It was because Yuuki, who had previously entrusted his three meals a day to convenience store meals or eating out so as to not waste time, now was eating Hatsushiro’s delicious, and nutritionally balanced food three times a day.
He’s a true peerless, one-man army. Twenty minutes hadn’t even passed, and yet, the enemies had been annihilated, leaving behind one last question.
“FUHAHAHAHA, how foolish, how laughable!! It’s ludicrous that each of you bastards have stolen the time I had with my loved one!! Come, O’ final question. Let’s see how much you bastard can entertain m──”
“Yuuki, do it quietly or I’ll deduct your points”
“Ah, I’m sorry”
After being warned by the proctor, Yuuki started to solve the question quietly.
Ootani, with a glance, was looking at him with eyes that were looking at a world class idiot.
By the way, the final question, the last essay-type question, was tougher than expected, but he finished solving it in 15 minutes. If there was no mistake, it would be a perfect score.
“…Well then, please pass the questions paper to the front”
The third day of the end of term exam. The final test, the Math B exam, was over.
“There’s nothing really to announce today, so this is it. You all be careful on your way home”
The homeroom teacher of class A, who was the proctor, left the classroom.
Students could leave before noon on the final day of the exam as there were only three subjects. Moreover, the principal of Yuuki’s school made a thoughtful move by completely cancelling club activities and committee meetings and such on the last of day exam, saying, “You should be resting and have fun as much as possible after studying so hard,” and now everyone was cheerfully thinking about how they would they enjoy their free time after this.
Yuuki took a breather.
“…Good work. How did it go?,” Ootani sitting behind him asked as she put away her writing tools.
“Frankly, I was really satisfied with it,” said Yuuki, looking slightly bewildered.
“It’s like, it’s the most confident I’ve been to date. But if I think about my actual study time alone, it’s the shortest one I’ve ever had”
“Ooh, maybe that’s a girlfriend power,” said Ootani half-jokingly.
“I do think that’s certainly the reason. Just thinking about giving this to Hatsushiro after all is done gives me infinite strength”
Yuuki took out something from his bag. It was two tickets to a certain theme park. Ootani looked at her friend, who said such a thing with a deadly serious face, and her face twitched as if she was truly astounded.
“…Haah, yes yes. I’m amazed you can say something like ‘infinite power’ with a straight face”
However, after a brief pause, Ootani lowered the tone of her voice and then spoke.
“…Hey, Yuuki. About Hatsushiro-san”
“I told you before that I’d look up about what happened at Hatsushiro-san’s school, right?”
“Yeah, you did”
Yuuki perceived the seriousness of the conversation, and looked at Ootani.
“At that time, I told you I didn’t intend to tell you what I found out, but… in any case I’ll tell you about this. I contacted a middle school’s classmate of mine to look it up…”
After a brief pause, Ootani told him something unexpected.
“At that girl’s school… it seems there’s no student called Hatsushiro”
It was far too unexpected that Yuuki’s mind stopped for a moment.
“No, no, no, wait a minute. There’s no way that was”
Hatsushiro was definitely wearing the first-year uniform of that school. And not just her uniform, even her bag and jersey were of that school.
“I don’t get it either. And right now I’m having it to be looked up a bit more”
Ootani spoke to the dumbfounded Yuuki.
“Sorry about this. I’m sure that you want me to keep quiet about it, but it just didn’t sit right with me if I didn’t tell you”
“…No, it’s fine. Thanks for telling me”
“Hey, as expected, isn’t it about time you ask Hatsushiro-san about it? Well… You can go about it however you like, though”
Yuuki stood still there for a while, staring at the tickets in his hand.
Yuuki had heard the unexpected fact from Ootani, but since he couldn’t just stay in disorder forever, he decided to act as usual for the time being.
Though the exam was over, Yuuki was a man who wouldn’t miss a chance to review. On the day the exam was over, he headed to the school’s study room, and looked back at the end of term exam’s question while it’s still fresh in his head. On this time’s test, there’s basically no question he didn’t understand, but in his own way, he would sort out the one that took time for him to recall, that he had trouble solving, and that he made a careless mistake on.
“…Looks like I still have to do something about my bad habit of sometimes forgetting to change the symbol when transposing simultaneous equations. It also often eats up my time”
Not many people would go this far after an exam, after getting fired up to study hard before the exam. This thoroughness was what made Yuuki constantly placing first.
To tell the truth, he wanted to immediately return home and give Hatsushiro the ticket, but he had to endure it. There would be no point in having Hatsushiro feel lonely and concentrating on the exam if he were to go half-heartedly here.
“…Nevertheless, I wonder what’s actually happening”
Yuuki ruminated on the fact Ootani had told him in his head.
Of course, that didn’t mean that he would change his approach towards Hatsushiro. Hatsushiro was Hatsushiro.
However, maybe it’s really about time I try asking Hatsushiro about her story, just like Ootani told me, he thought. He was very well aware that Hatsushiro was the type of person who couldn’t bring herself to say something, even if she wanted to.
…Of course, I don’t intend to force her to if she hesitates, but.
“In Ootani’s opinion, I’d probably be better off make her talk even if it’s forceful”
Well, let’s put that aside.
For now let’s quickly finish up the reviewing, and then go home where Hatsushiro’s waiting.
After he finished up his review and left the school, it was just past noon.
Yuuki was making his way home at a small run when the usual supermarket caught his eyes.
“Yeah, guess I’ll drop by and buy her a cake or something”
He had a recollection of having seen a scene from women’s manga magazine Ootani had shown him, where a husband, who was returning home from job transfer, bought a cake as a souvenir. It was probably a way of showing his apology for making his wife feel lonely while he was away with work, and to thank her for looking after the house.
At that time when I saw it, I honestly couldn’t understand it, but I understand it now, and it’s actually quite the classy move, he thought.
Therefore, Yuuki entered the supermarket. When Yuuki was pondering which one he should buy in the confectionery section where sweets were displayed, “Hmm? If it isn’t Yuuki-kun.”
There was Shimizu Kouji with a basket full of chocolate cakes and canned bears.
Shimizu smiled and walked up towards Yuuki.
“Hey, hey, Yuuki-kun!!”
He thought of just giving a slight bow and running away immediately, but he couldn’t just ignore him if came approaching him with such uselessly high excitement like this.
“He-hello, coach Shimizu”
“How really unexpected to meet you here!!”
“I-I suppose so. Do you live around here?”
“Nah, I live a bit away from here, but the nearest supermarket is temporarily closed so I came to this one. But weeell, it really is unexpected. I’m sure this is god telling you that you should join the baseball club, Yuuki kun. So what do you think?”
Such a god can just go die, Yuuki honestly felt so.
Haah, I’m somehow really bad at dealing with this person…
His persistence in inviting him to join the baseball club was a big part of it. However, I somehow don’t want to talk to him too much, Yuuki thought so. He was usually smiling brightly and cheerfully, so he shouldn’t be the kind of person difficult to get along with, though…
Yuuki never had such a feeling before, so he was puzzled by the unfamiliar feeling himself.
“I’ve told you this many times, but I don’t have the intention of joining the baseball club”
“Come on, don’t be like that. I’m sure that you can even balance it with your stu… Hmm? Did you come to buy a cake too, Yuuki-kun?”
“Eh? Well, yeah. Since the exam is over, I thought I’d celebrate”
He didn’t say it’s for his girlfriend waiting at home, but he didn’t lie.
“I see, I see. Aah, in that case, there’s a good one over there but a little more expensive. Let’s see, let me get it for you”
“Please, you don’t have to go that fa”
“I’ll be back in a minute!!,” said Shimizu, walking quickly to another section.
…I guess I’ll ditch him before he gets back. That’s when, “Umm, Yuuki san. What’s the matter? Making a bitter face like that,” Hatsushiro was suddenly standing nearby.
She was in her usual uniform.
“Aah, it’s nothing. Are you shopping?”
“Yes. I was preparing dinner, but we ran out of soy sauce…”
“I see. Then let’s go shopping together, I’ll hold the basket”
“Thank you very much”
Yuuki took the basket Hatsushiro was holding, with a bottle of soy sauce in it.
“Yuuki-san, what were you planning to buy at the sweets section?”
Yuuki scratched his cheek.
Of course, he could honestly tell her he was about to buy a cake as a token of gratitude for supporting him during the exam period. However, …Let’s do it tomorrow. Somehow I also have the feeling that it’s better to buy something like that as a surprise to bring home.
A little bit of surprise in daily life was important.
Before Hatsushiro came, Yuuki didn’t care about it at all, but lately he had become aware of it. Although not as good as Fujii, he wanted to praise himself for being able to pay attention to such things.
“Nope, nothing at al”
“Heeey, Yuuki-kun. I got the cake!!”
It was ruined. What an ill-mannered man.
Shimizu walked up to them with a box of cake, that seemed to be expensive, in hand.
“It’s this one, this ice cake is pretty tas…”
“…Hmm? Is something the matter?”
Shimizu suddenly stopped in place.
What the hell is the matter?, and when Yuuki looked at the direction Shimizu was looking, “…”
Hatsushiro was frozen in place, her eyes wide open.
“Hey, what’s wrong, Hatsushiro?”
At first, he couldn’t understand the meaning of the words that escaped Hatsushiro’s lips.
What did Hatsushiro say just now?
From the other direction, Shimizu, also in a natural manner, called Hatsushiro’s first name.
^1. In baseball, a pinch hitter is a substitute batter.
^2. “IS, ONLY LOVE” written in English/katakana