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solution 6

’What the hell, what the hell, what the hell….!’

Irritated by the scene that kept replaying in his head, Souta fled up the stairs.

Running out of the hallway, he forced open the poorly-fitted door of the clubroom.
 

“W-woah!”

Yuu, who had been the only one left in the room, seemed quite startled, and dropped the script that he’d been holding onto the desk.

He gave Souta, who was breathing heavily, a strange look, and then looked behind him questionably and said,

“That was quick. Wait, Haruki isn’t with you?”

Souta nodded.

He was still trying to catch his breath, so it was hard to try and talk just yet.
 

It had been ten minutes since Souta had gone to look for Haruki, who still hadn’t come back from going to the vending machines.

He’d run into Akari along the way, and then—

Souta bit his lip when that scene flashed through his mind again.
 

’Should I tell Yuu about this? Or keep it a secret? ….What should I do….’

He was still unsure, but before he could come to a decision, his mouth moved on its own.
 

“O-okay, I have to tell you something, so stay calm, alright?”
 

There, he said it.

Now that it was out, and more importantly, due to his personality, it was difficult to keep pretending like he hadn’t seen anything

Besides, Yuu had good intuition, so even if he tried to hide it from him, he would probably find out eventually.

Seeing Yuu nod, Souta made up his mind.
 

“J-just now, in the classroom… I-I saw Haruki c-confessing to Natsuki…!”
 

He probably hadn’t expected that at all. Yuu had frozen on the spot, as if he’d forgotten how to blink.

Eventually, Yuu let out a low growl and tore at his hair in open frustration.

And then, as if you get rid of his pent-up anger, he clicked his tongue and cursed under his breath.

“Damn it…”
 

‘At this rate, I’m sure Yuu’s just going to keep his feelings all bottled up inside.

Compared to Souta, who was still bubbling with anger, his childhood friend seemed mature in doing that.

But at the same time, he also seemed equally childish.
 

“….You know, Yuu, it’s kind of like you’re a jack of all trades but master of none.”

Yuu seemed to have heard Souta mutter this.

“Huh?” He replied vaguely, and turned to look at Souta with sluggish movements.

‘So he really is mad.’

Souta shrugged his shoulders, and spoke in a chastising tone.
 

“Getting annoyed, clicking your tongue, pulling at your hair, and then you just give up? Why not just scream out how you’re feeling? Like, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me!’ or something. Are you that scared of showing your emotions?”

The words he flung out were much more provocative and merciless than the comments that made them call him “Black Mochita”.

On the hand, Yuu seemed to have calmed down now, and he spoke in an indifferent tone,

“….Even if I do that, it won’t change what’s already happened.”

“Maybe you’re right, but what will happen to your feelings now that they have nowhere to go?”

“Who knows? They’ll probably just fade away eventually.”

As Yuu gave half-hearted replies, Souta challenged him even further.

“They won’t fade away. They’ll just pile up in the bottom of your heart. It’s kind of sad that those feelings are being ignored by their own owner.”
 

This time, Yuu’s eyes twitched.

The agitation seemed to sweep over his entire body, making him slump weakly in the end.

“….Then, what am I supposed to do…”
 

Hearing Yuu speak in this strained voice, as if he were about to cry, Souta felt a sharp pain in his chest.

‘What the hell am I doing….? It’s like I’m just venting my anger.’

That’s right, he was just completely putting the blame on Yuu.
 

When he’d caught Haruki confessing to Natsuki, Souta’s head had gone completely blank.

And then, worried about how Akari was reacting, he’d seen her so upset and received an even bigger shock. He realized that he really had just been misunderstanding things.

’She didn’t accept my confession, but it’s not like she rejected me, either. And since we even went to eat take together, I thought we were doing like a trial period….’
 

He’d interpreted things in a way that made it more convenient for himself, and gotten his hopes up.

Although Akari had said that she didn’t really understood love, he had read that as her not having anyone she liked, so that it would seem like he had some kind of chance. But—

’Even if she didn’t realize what it was, she probably still ended up falling in love.’
 

With Haruki’s confession as the trigger, her feelings had surfaced all at once.

After realizing Akari’s true feelings, though he reall wished he hadn’t, Souta couldn’t help but think,
 

If only Yuu had confessed to Natsuki sooner.

If they’d been dating, Haruki probably wouldn’t have confessed to Natsuki.

Maybe then— 
 

’Would things have been different now? Really?’
 

Souta slowly walked up to the long desk, and gathered up the scattered papers.

“If it were me, I’d write the things I was feeling right now into a script.”

He’d said those words mainly for himself.

Strangely enough, just by saying it out loud, Souta felt like things were starting to clear up.
 

“….Huh?”

Taken aback, Yuu lifted his head and looked at Souta quizzically.

Rather than explaining, Souta laughed quietly and started writing on the paper with a mechanical pencil.
 

He wrote things down just the way they came to mind, stopping now and then to underline things, and add words here and there.

’I see. I get it now. This is what I wanted to do all along.’
 

Feeling Yuu staring at him blankly, Souta suddenly spoke as if remembering something,

“Starting now, I’m just going to be talking to myself, so just ignore me,”

In a strangely calm tone, he started talking without waiting for Yuu’s reply.
 

“I’m hoping to get into university by recommendation. That’s why I’ve been talking a lot with the guidance counselor, Handa-sensei…. and I heard him say that Haruki might be studying at a university in America.”
 

“What?”

He heard Yuu say in a raspy voice, but he simply continued talking.

He told him about everything he’d seen and heard that day in the faculty room.

            ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It happened while Souta was in the middle of his evaluation meeting with Handa-sensei after they’d finished with his practice interview.

He’d been in the faculty room afterschool, which was filled with a peculiar atmosphere now that mostly everyone else had gone home, nervously listening to his assessment.

“Mochizuki, your short essay is good, but….”

“Thank you!”

The relief he felt lasted for only a brief moment, as Handa-sensei soon looked coolly down at the assessment sheet.

“Yes, but as for the interview, the most important part….”

“I-I tried to show how honest I am through my unsteadiness!”

“You should use concrete previous experiences for that. While it may be fine while you’re still here at this school, if you can’t even sound confident when saying your motives, you’re going to have a hard time during the examination for the university.”

“I-I understand….”
 

It was just as the teacher said. While he’d been given a recommendation, if he wasn’t able to do well during the interview at the university entrance exam, it wouldn’t mean anything. It made him even more worried knowing that he was the type that had a hard time speaking once he got nervous.

’What am I going to do? Will I make it in time for the real thing?’

Even before today’s mock interview, Yuu had helped him practice many times, but in the end, he’d get too nervous to say what he wanted to say.
 

’Maybe I should ask another teacher for help instead.’

Looking around the faculty room, a man wearing a long, white coat caught his eye.

He had talked to Akechi-sensei before more than Handa-sensei, and he didn’t got too nervous around him, either. He would be the perfect “adult” to practice expressing his opinions with.

’I’ll practice until I’m better with Akechi-sensei first, and then ask another teacher again!’
 

Just as Souta was about to try asking him, Akechi-sensei said something that him stop in his tracks.

“Good job, Serizawa! Looks like you passed the secondary judging, too.”

’Secondary judging.…? Are they talking about the contest?’

While Souta felt happy for him, there was also something that bothered him.

Neither he nor Yuu had heard anything from Haruki about passing the preliminary judging, let alone the secondary judging.
 

Haruki and Akechi-sensei didn’t seem to notice Souta standing there, and continued talking amongst themselves.

“Which one are you talking about?”

“The one that comes with the study abroad in America.”

“Seriously?! That’s awesome!”

Seeing Haruki throw up both of his hands in joy, Souta felt like he was watching him on a movie screen.

’Which one? So that means he entered two different contests? And one comes with a study abroad in America, too?’

That was news to him. And a shocking one, at that.

Haruki had told Yuu and Souta that the contest prize was a video editing software.

It wasn’t very likely that it would suddenly change to a study abroad trip to America, so it must have been another contest that he hadn’t told them about.
 

“Good going for Serizawa, huh? He’ll probably have good chances of getting into a university that way.”

Souta flinched a little when he heard Handa-sensei suddenly come up behind him and comment in admiration.

The teachers knew that Haruki and Souta were in the same club, as well as childhood friends. Since they got along so well, they probably assumed that Souta had already heard about Haruki’s post-graduation plans.

He didn’t feel like clearing up that misunderstanding, and instead simply answered by forcing a smile onto his stiff face.
 

’Haruki planned on leaving not just our area, but Japan altogether without telling either of us….’

The truth that he said aloud to himself slowly ate away at Souta’s heart.

Even though they were in the same room, within shouting distance even, Haruki felt so far away.
 

He betrayed us.

I’m so jealous.

I admire him.

He left us behind.

I have to support him.
 

Many different feelings floated up, making him feel like he was standing in the middle of a storm.

When he could no longer bear standing there any longer, Souta silently lowered his head and left the faculty room.
 

Since he’d left the room, he had no idea what Akechi-sensei and Haruki talked about afterwards.

But knowing Akechi-sensei, he was probably supportive of his student going to study abroad.

And Haruki must have grinned so wide his teeth showed.
 

’Even though we’ve been left out of the loop….’

            ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
 

Yuu listened to the whole story in a daze.

Souta understood how he felt. He still haven’t fully accepted it, either.

But that didn’t change what had happened, and time stopped for no one.

’Once spring comes, Haruki is going to study abroad….’
 

“What the hell….”

When Yuu finally spoke, that was all he could say.

Yuu fell silent again after that, and Souta couldn’t find anything to say, either.

’Yuu probably feels the same as me. Not just about Haruki not telling us, but the fact that it’s like he’s leaving us behind, too….’

Souta continued moving his pencil, desperately chasing after the “light” he had found.
 

“….As for me, I still haven’t found anything like that to be passionate about.”

Were those words directed at Haruki? Or were they meant for Souta?

Yuu laughed with self-mockery, and looked up at the ceiling.
 

“There you go again… Saying things like that and putting yourself down.”

“No, but it’s the truth…”

As Yuu shrugged, Souta shot him a piercing look.

“It’s because of you giving me that push from behind that I can write scripts like this now.”

“……..What?”
 

Yuu was neither joking nor acting; he genuinely froze on the spot.

“Hold on, you don’t remember?”

Souta tried asking just to be sure, but Yuu still seemed confused.

Souta sighed, and supposing it couldn’t be helped, retold the memory of that day.
 

“—I don’t have natural talent like Haruki does, and I’m not good at handling schedules like you do, or managing a lot of people to work together…. The most I can do is just run errands.”
 

Seeming to finally remember, Yuu’s breath caught.

“Didn’t you say something like this this last year, too…?”

“You’re so slow~ At this rate, you probably don’t even remember the things you say yourself.”

As Souta threw a resentful glance at him, Yuu answered with a wry smile.

“What’re you talking about? You have talent with script writing, Mochita.”
 

All he did was repeat the same line as back then.

But both Yuu and Souta smiled naturally.

“I’m just a perfectly normal person, with nothing special in particular. But even for someone like me, there was a speck of talent, so I’m sure that there’s something for you too, Yuu.”

“….I’ll try looking for it.”
 

He saw sure that Yuu also knew it was something that was easier said than done.

For people like Haruki and Akari, who had almost blinding talent, even if they didn’t realize it themselves, it was something that those around them couldn’t ignore.

They’d find themselves looking up at the light that they’d found like a bright, shining star.
 

’It makes me feel kinda of envious, but if it’s Yuu, I’m sure he’ll be able to find it on their own.’

Souta recalled the words of a certain film director.

Talent is the ability to continue being passionate about something.

If it had been that way for Souta, he was sure that Yuu would be able to find it, too:
 

The fragment of blinding light that lit his passion.


            ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
 

Several days had passed since Souta saw Haruki confess to Natsuki.

Souta and Haruki were alone together in the clubroom afterschool, and things felt awkward between them.

’….No, it’s probably just me that feels that way.’
 

Yuu has gone home early to prepare for the national mock exam at his prep school that weekend.

Since the future of their precious childhood friend was at stake, Souta and Haruki had willingly sent him off. However, Souta was already wishing Yuu would come back.
 

He glanced over to check on Haruki, and their eyes met, as Haruki had been looking in his direction, as well.

Unintentionally turning his face away, he heard a wry laugh from in front of him.

“What? Going through puberty or something?”

Haruki spoke jokingly, as usual. It would be appropriate for him to just reply back as usual.

Souta knew this, but with his heart in such disorder, he ended up saying something else entirely.
 

“You know, I got my recommendation to be admitted into university.”

“Seriously?! Congrats, good for you!”

“Thanks. Haruki, don’t you also….”

“Hm?”

Souta had trailed off after seeing the pure and nonchalant smile that Haruki had given him.

But not wanting to keep holding onto this one-sided grudge all the way up until graduation, he made up his mind to ask.
 

“Haruki, don’t you also have something to say?”

“….With the way this is going, it should be good news too, right?”

“Yeah, sounds about right.”

Haruki seemed to have guessed what he wanted to ask, dropping his gaze and scratching at his head uncomfortably.

He reluctantly opened and closed his mouth a few times, and then finally, he muttered together with a sigh,
 

“Sorry. I didn’t want to jinx it, or well, I was going to wait until it was official before I said anything.”

“I see. That makes sense; with contests, you never know what’ll happen until the very end. I think it’d be hardest on you if you got everyone involved just to get their hopes up and then disappoint them if it didn’t work out.”

“Pretty much. But this isn’t about whether or not you can understand my intentions, right?”

Haruki pointed at Souta’s brow, and let out a troubled laugh.

Unable to hide the fact that he was disgruntled now that it’d been pointed out that it showed on his face, he furrowed his brow even more.
 

“Since you’ve figured out that much, I’ll just get straight to the point. What are you going to do about Natsuki?”

“….I’m surprised. You sound just like Yuu talking like that, Mochita.”

Don’t say it like you didn’t expect that.

Resisting the urge to snap back, Souta kept his composure and continued.
 

“I saw you confess to her. What was that all about?”

He wondered how Haruki was going to respond.

As he watched him with bated breath, the next thing that Haruki said was shocking.
 

“Yeah, I thought so.”

“….Huh?”

“I thought I saw you. Wasn’t that Hayasaka with you that time?”

“How can you say that so casually?! Akarin was….!”

If he let slip the fact about how shocked Akari had been, that would mean giving away the truth about her feelings.

Realizing that he had to avoid that at all costs, Souta suppressed his anger.
 

“I’m going to ask you one more time. What was that all about?”

The sharp gaze that Souta looked at him with was enough to make even someone as cheerful as Haruki stop smiling.

“It was a confession rehearsal. It’s pretty nerve-wrecking to confess to someone, right? So Natsuki recommended that I practice first, and I asked her to be my practice partner. That’s all.”

“….Wh-what the hell?!”

As Souta unintentionally shouted, Haruki said with a smug face,

“Like I said, it was just a confession rehearsal.”
 

Feeling his head start to pound with pain, Souta slumped against the long desk.

“….So that means that you don’t like Natsuki like that?”

“Yeah, basically.”

“Then why don’t you just confess for real already?”

“……”
 

He finally had Haruki pinned down, but it wasn’t something he could openly celebrate about.

Things were starting to feel tense between them, and he could tell Haruki was uneasy.

Amidst all this, Souta felt like he was overstepping his boundaries as a friend.

-

’If I’m going to turn back, I should do it now.’

Even if he didn’t hurry and throw away that festering grudge, they could probably resolve things with time.

It would be stupid to ruin a friendship over matters of love.

’Haruki, I know it’s none of my business but, I’m worried about you, too.’

As he tried to control the noisy beating of his heart under his shirt, Souta said as if pressing him for an answer,
 

“Oh, I get it. It’s not that you won’t confess, it’s because you can’t, right? Since you might be going to study abroad at a university in America if you win that contest.”
 

When he put emphasis on the word “can’t,” Haruki raised an eyebrow.

Maybe that small detail had been enough to give away his true intentions.

Somewhat embarrassed now, Souta mumbled his next words.

“….So? Is that why?”

“You know, Mochita, you always take notice of other people. Plus, you’re a good guy that worries about others.”

As Haruki nodded in agreement to his own words, Souta cooly cut him off.

“Enough with that. I’m not going to stop pressing you even if you throw compliments at me.”

“I know. I’m just saying what I really think.”
 

Since Haruki was being so much more serious than usual, it was Souta who was starting to get confused now.

“H-huh? I’m asking just in case, but does that still have anything to do with what we were talking about?”

“….You know something? There’s no one I value more than myself. There are times I don’t care about anything besides making movies, and I’m willing to do anything in order to make a good movie.”

I see. So that’s how Haruki sees things.’

There was more that Souta wanted to say, but not wanting to interrupt Haruki now that he was starting to talk without restraint, he merely nodded silently.
 

“The American university that I’d be studying abroad at is famous for their film program, so naturally, I’d be happy to study there, and I see it as a great chance for me. But….”

Though Haruki’s gaze had been so straight and resolute, he suddenly lowered it.

Souta could more or less figure out what he wanted to say next, and encouraged him by muttering a quiet, “Yeah.”
 

“I realized that there’s something else important to me besides movies.”

“….Have you told her about this?”

Although he already knew how Haruki was going to respond, he still dared to ask.

Sure enough, Haruki shook his head.

“No. At first, I planned to tell her only if it guaranteed I was going, but that probably won’t work. If I’m unlucky, I’ll probably just tell her anyway.”
 

Souta couldn’t find any words to say to Haruki as he gave a weak laugh.

The fact that he’d been the one to make him say that made his chest clench.

“….It’d be tough to be separated right off the bat. And it wouldn’t even just somewhere else in the country, but America! That pretty much doubles my chances of being rejected.”

“……”

“Heeey, isn’t this where you say something like, ‘You sure are confident about winning that prize, huh?’”

Haruki was trying to lighten the situation, to the point of imitating him.

Although Souta knew he should go along with this, he instead chose to be straightforward.
 

“But she has the freedom to choose, too. You’re taking all these extra measures right now to plan it out beforehand, but she might say that she doesn’t mind it being long distance, you know?”

Instead of a reply, the chair he was sitting in sounded with a clatter.

Haruki placed his hands on the desk with a blank expression, looking down at Souta.

Souta was prepared to be yelled at this time for sure, but instead, Haruki walked over to the window.
 

“….I told you, didn’t I? In the end, the one I really value the most is myself. Being rejected, and having a long distance relationship go poorly, I’d hate both of those just as much.”

“Because you don’t want to be hurt?”

Haruki continued without turning around.

“And to top it all off, even while we’re having this whole conversation, I’m still thinking about movies somewhere in the corner of my mind. Not just about my new work, but about how this experience could benefit me, things like that.”
 

What the hell? You say such self-centered things.

That was the impression that Souta got.

But if he told him, he had a feeling Haruki would just laugh it off, saying, “You’re so emotional.”

After hesitating, Souta decided to make a comeback with a logical statement.
 

“You’re contradicting yourself. Being rejected, or failing at a long distance relationship, wouldn’t they be ‘good experiences’? They’d make sufficient nutrition for making movies, right?”

“….I’m a picky eater.”

It was obvious that he was being driven in a corner.

Haruki was probably thinking really hard right now about how to avoid Souta’s questions.
 

’I probably said too much. I should just leave it at that.’

Rather than apologizing, Souta chose to change the subject, instead.

“By the way, about the screening, has it been officially arranged yet?”

“….The Student Council sent us the document for it.”
 

About a week ago, the Student Council had heard about their new video project, and proposed they hold a screening for it the day before the graduation ceremony.

Since the movie happened to also be about a graduation ceremony, the viewers would end up having a bias as they watched, and not be able to appreciate the movie’s appeal and power on their own.

On that note, Souta and the others had turned them down several times, but in the end, with the Student Council President being an avid fan of the Film Club, the director, Haruki, had given into his enthusiasm, and the screening had been arranged.
 

“You know, there’s a scene I really want to include.”

“….But we don’t have any time left, you know? Have you talked it over with Yuu?”

“It’s just so nice out today. It’s like the perfect day for filming.”

“Like I said, have you discussed the schedule with Yuu yet?”

“There’s no time like the present! Mochita, get the camera!”
 

            ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
 

The two of them had come to a park that was a short walking distance from the nearest station.

It’d be cutting it close, but with the swings and benches dyed in the colors of the setting sun, it was the perfect chance for shooting some good footage, just like Haruki said.

-

“Hey, didn’t that girl just now look kind of like Natsuki?”

“You sure it wasn’t someone else? You see a lot of girls dressed like that.”

“Well, obviously. They all have the same uniform. But you don’t see too many with that hairstyle….”

Unsure if Haruki was joking or actually being serious, Souta was about to make a retort, but at the sight of a certain person, he paused.

There was someone he recognized standing by the sandbox.
 

Although slightly unnerved by the atmosphere surrounding the boy, Souta slowly approached him.

The other seemed to have noticed him approaching, and turned around to face him.

’I knew it, it’s Yukki….’
 

“What’re you living here? Isn’t your house on the other side of town?”

“….I see. So Mocchi and Serizawa-kun live around here, too.”

Although he felt something off about Koyuki’s words, Souta nodded.

“Our director kept saying how there was an extra scene that he had to film no matter what, so….”

He gestured with his chin over at Haruki, who had his back turned towards them and was busying himself with setting up the position of the camera.

Koyuki chucked and said with a shrug of his shoulders, “You must be really busy, then.”
 

“What about you, Yukki? What were you doing?”

“….There was something I was planning on doing, but I wasn’t able to.”

“Huh?”

Souta looked at Koyuki, wondering if he’d misheard something, but Koyuki was looking outside of the park.

Could he be waiting for someone? But he spoke using the past tense, so….’

“Hey, about what you said earlier!”

Haruki shouted as he tightened the knobs on the tripod.

“You said that Mochita and I lived around here, ‘too,’ so who else did you mean?”
 

Souta made a sound of realization, now knowing why Koyuki’s words had sounded odd before.

He recalled the girl they’d seen on their way to the park, and gradually started to put the pieces together.

The thing that Koyuki had been planning to do, but haven’t been able to—
 

“You’re good friends with Serizawa-kun, after all, so you must be curious about it, right?”

Haruki burst out laughing at Koyuki’s daring suggestion, as if he found something funny about it.

“Nah, you’re misunderstanding. I mean, Yuu’s not my only childhood friend, you know?”

’Ah, right. There’s also me, right? ….But that’s probably not the point here.’
 

Koyuki seemed confused for a moment, but he soon realized what Haruki was getting at.

“Enomoto-san is your childhood friend, too, isn’t she?”

“Right. So, did you mean you were planning to ‘confess,’ but couldn’t do it?”

As if as payback for Koyuki’s accusation earlier, Haruki asked a malicious question.

While Koyuki still had a smile on his face, Souta, who was listening from the sidelines, started panicking.
 

“H-hey, hold on, Haruki! We can’t just butt in like this just because we’re all childhood friends!”

“It’s an issue that came up prior to even confessing.”

“Yukki, you too! You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to….!”

Despite Souta’s efforts to put a stop to this, Koyuki continued, unfazed.

“I simply watched Enomoto-san go, unable to say anything.”
 

Koyuki told them all of this indifferently, but there was something dejected about the tone of his voice.

Souta felt sad just listening to him, and looked at Koyuki, who had lowered his gaze.

’I wonder if Yukki thinks poorly of himself because of that….’
 

“Are you sure it wasn’t because you couldn’t confess, but because you chose not to?”

Haruki asked Koyuki, phrasing it similarly to how Souta had earlier.

Koyuki lifted his face in surprise, his lips quivering.

“I never expected her to accept my feelings. But, at the very least, I thought I’d tell her how I felt…. I tried changing my appearance, how I looked out on the outside, but…. It was pointless.”
 

‘No way…. But he worked so hard….’

Souta became further saddened at how Koyuki wouldn’t recognize his own efforts.

But with how Koyuki spoke as if he’d already given this a lot of thought, even Haruki couldn’t say anything.
 

“I knew that my feelings would only be a burden to her.”

“That’s not….”

Unable to hold it in any longer, Souta tried cutting in.

But Koyuki only smiled softly and shook his head, leaving Souta no choice but to keep silent.
 

“….It’s because Natsuki has someone she likes, huh?”

Haruki muttered, but not as an actual question.

For some reason, that struck a nerve with Souta.

“Even if she does like someone else, that doesn’t mean that Yukki’s feelings would be a burden!”

Souta was upset, and had shouted in a louder voice than he’d intended to.

Koyuki widened his eyes, but when he spoke, he was an indifferent as before.

“That’s also one way of looking at it.”
 

‘How can Yukki be so calm about this?’

It was obvious that Koyuki was shocked, but he was trying not to let it show.

He was so much stronger, and dignified, than Souta had ever imagined.
 

“Maybe….”

Koyuki’s voice caused a slight tension in the air.

He could tell that Koyuki was hesitating to continue, so Souta gave a small nod as if to encourage him. Haruki had also abandoned his camera, and was waiting attentively. 
 

“Maybe if I had told her my feelings, it might have become some form of strength for her, or helped push her forward. But, I imagined a different outcome….”
 

How long did the silence go on?

Losing himself in the chorus of the autumn insects, Souta simply waited.

Finally, Koyuki seemed to have made up his mind, and told them his true feelings.
 

“She’s a kind person, so I think she would have worried about not being able to return my feelings. Even after she’d rejected me, I think they would continue to remain in her heart, weighing down on it, for a long time.”
 

Souta felt like he’d been struck in the head. That was the extent of his shock, so much that he forget to even breathe.

’But I don’t understand why Yukki’s feelings would be a burden for Natsuki…. In the first place, he’s already assuming he’d be rejected?’
 

Since Souta had always thought rather lowly of himself, never holding very high hopes for his own feelings being returned, maybe that was why he was so upset with Koyuki.

But Koyuki’s sincere words didn’t convey that same kind of impression at all.

’Yukki’s accepted the truth, and put Natsuki’s feelings first to the very end….’
 

He must have gone through tremendous shock when he realized he wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with her.

But despite that, Koyuki chose to avoid hurting her at all costs.

Even if that meant sacrificing his own feelings.
 

Some people might say it was cowardly to let things ends without ever confessing.

But Souta found Koyuki’s choice to be incredibly admirable.

’So there’s this kind of love, too….’ 
 

At that moment, he felt like a ray of light had shone into the bottom of his heart, which had been spiraling for so long.

No matter who Akari liked, he couldn’t throw away his own feelings.

Even if he couldn’t support Akari’s love, he could still watch over her.
 

’I don’t care if these feelings are one-sided; I’ll love enough for the both of us.’

Repeating to himself a line he’d heard in the movie he’d watched last night, Souta looked up at the sky.

There were only a few bright stars in the autumn sky, and none that stood out like the Summer Triangle.

But that’s what made the great nebulas and star clusters stand out all the more.
 

“I’m sure it’s the same way for relationships.”

Before anyone could hear those muttered words, they were swept away by the wind.


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