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Setoguchi Yuu 

Birthday: July 11
Horoscope Sign: Cancer
Blood Type: AB

Natsuki’s childhood friend. In the Film Research Club. A nice person, and popular in class. Has a younger sister.
 

practice 2

The second day after the confession rehearsal, Natsuki stared at the calendar in her room.

What do I do? No matter how many times I check, it’s Saturday…..’

She knew that she was just kidding herself. Of course she was completely aware of what day it was. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been drawing comics until morning, and she hadn’t panicked at all even when waking up well into the afternoon.

But when confronting it anew like this, she couldn’t help but worry.

Rehearsal or not, it was the first weekend after she’d confessed.
 

Pulling back the curtains, she could see Yuu’s room on the second floor of the house next door.

Since they lived right next to each other, and their mothers were good friends, they often went to each other’s house since they were young.

This continued even after they entered high school, and it had become a habit to hang out together during the weekend at either of their houses. Natsuki always went over under the pretext of asking Yuu to help her study.

It wouldn’t be like me to say something like, “I came over because I wanted to see you,”’

Natsuki sighed, and picked up the math worksheet sitting on the edge of her desk.

“Oh well, I guess I’ll go over.”
 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
 

Even though she’d come all fired up, unfortunately, Yuu wasn’t home.

With mixed feelings of relief and disappointment, Natsuki forced a laugh.

“I see…. I guess I’ll just head home for today, then.”

“Ehh—? I think he should be back soon, so let’s play games while we wait,”

The girl that said this while pouting was Yuu’s little sister, Hina.

She was in the same grade as Natsuki’s little brother, a first year in high school, but she was much cuter simply for being a girl. Her kitten-like playfulness immediately lifted up her dented mood.
 

“Sure. Wanna do leveling? Or battle mode?”

“Both!”

When Hina smiled innocently, she felt just a bit nervous.

Each time she smiled happily with her drooping eyes, Yuu’s face would come to mind.

Since they’re siblings, it’s only natural that they’d look alike, but…..’

It wasn’t just their physical characteristics; they had other things in common, as well.
 

“Nacchan, something happened between you and my brother.”

Hina was in the middle of letting herself into Yuu’s room when she suddenly turned to Natsuki.

Natsuki, who had been following behind her, was taken by surprise with the sudden question.

Unless I was just imagining it, she said that as a statement, and not a question, right!?
 

The way that Hina looked straight at her with convinced eyes made her uncomfortable.

“Does that reaction mean I’m right?”

“Uh, um, well……”

When Natsuki became flustered, Hina made a mature face.

“Hmm—? Well, if you don’t want to tell me, that’s okay, too,”

She dropped the subject unceremoniously and faced her small back in Natsuki’s direction again.
 

True to her word, Hina didn’t ask about it again.

As Natsuki watched her silently setting up the game system, she fidgeted restlessly.

Hina-chan said that because she was worried, right……?’

There was a possibility that she might have heard something from Yuu, as well.

No, from what she knew of her childhood friend’s personality, he probably wouldn’t have said anything about the confession rehearsal. But if even Hina was saying that something must have happened between the two of them, then that probably meant Yuu was acting differently from usual.
 

“……Um… hey, Hina-chan……?”

“If it’s you, then I don’t mind.”

“Eh?”

Because the context was missing, she couldn’t catch the meaning of her words right away.

Hina turned around with a controller in hand before elaborating.
 

“If it’s you, I don’t mind handing my brother over, Nacchan.”

Hina’s eyes shone with an unusual serious gleam.

It didn’t look like she was joking at all.

Natsuki straightened her back, and asked tentatively,

“What do you mean by ‘handing over’……?”

“He gets all sulky really easily, and he can be pretty indecisive sometimes, but he’s nice, and not bad-looking, either. Maybe I’m only saying this because I’m his sister, but I’d say he’s a pretty good deal!”

“Eh……”
 

After realizing what Hina was getting at, Natsuki’s face paled.

Wait, if she’s telling me all of this now, then does that means she knows about my feelings for Yuu!?’

She knew for a fact that she’d never told Hina about this before.

It was true that they got along like real sisters, but that’s exactly what made it hard to say something like, “Hina-chan, y’know, I have a crush on your brother.”
 

As Natsuki sat there, stunned, Hina said something even more shocking.

“Or is Koyuki-senpai more your type?”

“’T-type’…..?”

Judging by where the conversation was going, she probably meant the type of person that she liked.

In the face of this unexpected development, Natsuki could only open and close her mouth like a goldfish.
 

“Even all the first years are talking about how cool he’s gotten. At this rate, someone’s probably going to strike soon, don’t you think?”

“St-strike!?”

“I mean someone might confess.”

Hina smiled bitterly and shrugged her shoulders.

Once again, Natsuki was truly impressed with how she reacted so maturely.
 

“……Even though Koyuki-senpai’s always been really cool, and nice, too.”
 

Hina muttered suddenly.

It was said so quietly that Natsuki thought she might have misheard her.

While she was in the middle of deciding whether or not to ask her to repeat what she’d said, Hina spoke first,

“Hey, Nacchan.”
 

“I bet you’re wondering how I knew you like my brother, right?”

“Ehh!? Hina-chan, you can read minds?”

Natsuki blurted out, and Hina stifled a laugh. She dropped the controller she was holding, and then proceeded to fall down onto the floor, too.

 “N-Nacchan, you’re hilarious!”

“Hina-chaaaan, stop laughing and just answer meeee!”

Natsuki complained, nearly on the brink of crying, and seeming to feel sorry for her, Hina wobbled back on her feet.

While wiping the tears from the corners of her eyes, she began to explain everything.
 

“Since you’re so honest, it’s obvious just by looking at you.”

“R-really? Then….Does that mean that even Yuu……”

“I don’t think so. My brother’s pretty dull when it comes to noticing what others think about him, after all.”
In contrast, Hina was blunt as she made this sharp assessment.

Now that she’d mentioned it, things started to fit together in Natsuki’s mind.
 

Yuu had a habit of prioritizing other people before himself; it was practically natural for him.

Maybe it was because he couldn’t get out of his “big brother” role, even when he wasn’t at home. At a glance, Haruki, being the bullying type, acted much more like an older brother, but it was actually Yuu that made sure things got done whenever it came to club activities and such.

Even when it was a sensitive atmosphere, just like Hina had pointed out, he could be insensitive about how others felt about him.

Is it because I’m also an older sibling that I just can’t leave him alone?
 

Falling into deep thought, she then noticed that she was being stared at.

Glancing over, she held her breath and met eyes with Hina, who was looking straight at her. Despite all that was said, she probably wanted to know Natsuki’s reaction.

“…. Hina-chan, you sure talk all grown-up.”

“Don’t I~? After all, I’m in high school now!”

The way she threw out her chest proudly was cute, no question about it, and unable to take it, Natsuki hugged her tightly.

“Gosh! Hina-chan, you’re just so cuuuute!”

“Nacchan, that tickles~”
 

As their cheerful voices echoed around the room, the door suddenly opened without so much as a knock.

There was only one person who could do something like that.

“Just what’re you two doing in someone else’s room……”

There stood the owner of the room, Yuu, with an amazed look on his face.

“Onii-chan! Welcome home!”

Following Hina’s lead, Natsuki also waved at him.

“Welcome back~ You’re so late! Where’ve you been?”

“Does it really matter?’

Skillfully maneuvering his way past the two seated on the floor, he headed for the desk in the back of the room.

In his hand, he held a shopping bag from the large bookstore a station away. It was a bit too thick to be a magazine, so he had probably bought another new reference book.

Now that I think about it, his mom did say that he was going to take summer classes.’

Natsuki had overheard that when her mom and Yuu’s mom had been chatting in their living room, the day after her younger brother, who was still a first year in high school, had boasted about going to summer camp. Although Yuu rarely showed that studious side in front of her for some reason, he seemed to take studying for the entrance exams pretty seriously.
 

“Is it really okay for you to be wasting time over here on a weekend?”

As he put down the paper bag and his wallet on the desk, Yuu asked this in a joking manner.

Natsuki tilted her head in confusion at the sudden question.

“But you’re a special exception. And anyway, don’t I always come over on weekends anyway?”

“……Whatever you say,”

As if embarrassed by his own question, Yuu’s reply came out as a mumble.

From the side, his face looked a bit red, but that might’ve just been because he’d just come in from the cold outdoors. Natsuki decided against pointing it out, and just laughed a bit in response.
 

“So, what’d you come here for today?”

Yuu turned around again, and asked this while standing in an imposing stance.

“I was thinking you could maybe help me with my homework,”

As Natsuki laughed awkwardly, both Yuu and Hina sounded surprised as they asked in unison,

“So, not for the games…”

“It wasn’t for the games?”

“You guys are so in sync! No, of course not!!”
 

That makes it sounds like all I ever do is play games!

Those words of protest made it up to her throat, but she worried the reply would just be something plain, like “Yeah,” so she decided to keep it to herself.

But when she really thought about it, she had a feeling that half the time she came over to Yuu’s room, she was always holding a game controller, rather than any kind of writing utensil.

In that case, I’ll just have to prove it to him…!

Natsuki held up the math worksheet that lay completely forgotten, and thrust it towards him like evidence.
 

“Look! There’s only one problem done, see?”

“Well, don’t brag about it. What am I, some kind of refuge?”

Laughing wryly, Yuu reached for the folding table. Regardless of what he said, it looked like he was willing her help her again today, too.

Natsuki picked up her school supplies, and Hina also stood up to make room.
 

“Well, I’ll leave you two alone now,”

Hina smiled impishly, and Natsuki felt an inward chill.

Wah! If she words it like that, Yuu’s going to notice something for sure…..’

She glanced timidly at Yuu, but unlike what she had expected, he was grinning widely.

“Don’t you want to do homework with us, too?”

“….Onii-chan, at this rate, you’re going to struggle for life.”

“Hah? Is that supposed to be a prophecy?”

Unable to disagree with what Hina meant, Natsuki could only let out a dry laugh.
 

                                                       ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
 

After an hour passed, there was only one problem left on the worksheet.

She’d thought that it might take all afternoon, but as usual, Yuu was a good teacher. Even Natsuki, who was really quite bad at math, could find the correct answer, as if by magic.
 

He must study much more than normal… Yuu’s probably going to university at this rate, huh…

Natsuki was also studying her hardest to get into a vocational school, but having good grades from high school was essential. Since she had a younger brother to be a model for, she was aiming to become an honor student from the recommendation entrance exam.

Yuu had also said that he was aiming for a public university for the same reason.

Whether it was a private school or a public school, he said he wanted leave the options open for Hina.
 

Even though we’ve never talked, or even thought about that sort of this before then…’

Still, the topic about their career paths had inevitably come up.

The underclassman that had confessed to Yuu, too, must have been pressured by the fact that they wouldn’t be able to see each other anymore once spring graduation came. They would only be able to see each other in person every day while they were still in high school.

“……By the way, did you hear about that thing on Monday?”

Yuu must have noticed that Natsuki had lost concentration, and broke the silence by asking this.

Natsuki shrugged at the worksheet that she’d stopped writing on completely, and put down her mechanical pencil.

“You mean about wanting us to meet at the Film Club? I got the text from Miou, about how you’re looking for someone to draw for a new movie or something.”
 

As they started speaking again, Natsuki felt her mood plummet.

Natsuki liked Haruki’s movies as well, and had helped him out with props a number of times in the past.

However, this time, it seemed like they were looking for something on a much larger scale.

“……I wonder if I should even go to the meeting at all…”

“Hm? Are you not feeling well?”

“No, that’s not why….. You guys are looking for a picture that’ll be like a key for your movie, right? In that case, I feel like Miou and Akari would be more capable of drawing one,”

Natsuki forced out these words for the sake of preserving the quality of the work, but Yuu didn’t seem satisfied, and merely tilted his head.

“It’s true that Hayasaka and Aida draw really well, but we’re not professionals, so we don’t really know much about technique or artistic values. We just want a picture that fits the image of the heroine, that’s all.”

Although he sounded calm as he said this, Yuu’s words weighed heavily on her.

Natsuki didn’t argue it any further and just mumbled a quiet, “I see…..” in response.
 

“And anyway, I like your drawings.”

“……Eh?”

“When you draw people, they look really expressive, and when you draw backgrounds, they kind of sparkle, you know? I think it’s nice. Just looking at them cheers you up.”

“F-flattery isn’t going to get you anywhere.”

“Come on, don’t be modest. I wouldn’t just be flattering you starting now, after all this time we’ve known each other already~”
 

Seeing how easily Yuu laughed about it, Natsuki bit down on her bottom lip and looked down.

If she didn’t do that, she felt like she might start crying.

He says that to me so easily, even though he can be insensitive, but still acts nice around anyone…..’

It was always Yuu’s words that gave her confidence.

Even when Natsuki couldn’t see her own good points, Yuu would see them for her. And he would word it all so nicely, and compliment her.
 

“You draw comics, right? Don’t just show them to Hina. Let me read them too sometime.”

Before she could even thank him for his previous compliments, Yuu said something shocking.

Nodding without really meaning it, Natsuki lost the timing to look back up again.

I’m happy that he complimented me on my drawings, but showing him my comics is kind of…..’

If she wanted to go professional, it would be good idea to start showing her comics to people around her.

Thanks to the help of some friends she’d made on the internet, Natsuki had been able to summon the courage to show them to Hina, Miou, and Akari, among a few others. While at times the feedback could be harsh, they didn’t mean to discourage her, but tell her how she could improve.

However, if she were to show them to Yuu, it would be a completely different story.

Part of the reason was because the comic she was drawing was shoujo, but it was also because the hero clearly resembled a certain “someone.” And even if he didn’t notice that, Natsuki still wouldn’t be able to stand it.
 

“……I’ll give it some thought,”

Natsuki somehow managed to reply. Yuu smiled and answered back,

“Let me know as soon as possible.”

As expected, a guy that could read the atmosphere was something else.

He’s so considerate when it comes to these things, though…..’

As she looked at Yuu smiling in that big brother-like way, Natsuki felt like testing the waters a bit.

She took a small breath to disguise her feelings, and asked casually,
 

“Hey. If… If I happen to get a boyfriend, what would you do?”

“Well, this is random. Does this have something to do with your comic?”

“Who knows?”

Natsuki forced a grin, and Yuu sighed as if it couldn’t be helped.

“Well….. As your rehearsal partner, I’d have to cheer you on, right?”

“……nn”
 

She knew it was her own fault. Because she’d made it sound like she had someone else.

Despite this, Natsuki was so shocked that she couldn’t breathe right.

Yuu didn’t seem to think much of Natsuki’s silence, and started to read the reference book he’d bought.
 

“If it’s you, I don’t mind handing my brother over, Nacchan.”

Hina’s words repeated in her head, and Natsuki answered back mentally.

That it was impossible for her.

But still, being unable to give up, Natsuki said to Yuu, who wasn’t looking this way anymore,
 

“Thank you. It’s reassuring to know you’ll be there for me.”

As if surprised by the late reply, Yuu paused in turning the page of his book.

“…..Do your best.”

Even though he didn’t take his eyes off the reference book, Yuu’s face was kind.

“I will!”

Natsuki answered cheerfully this time, and pretended not to hear her heart crying out in pain.


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