Suki Kirai - Volume 1 - Chapter 5

The cultural festival is less than a week away. 
Since it’s held every year during the 2-day period of September’s 2nd Saturday and Sunday, right after summer vacation ends, during this time, it feels like the whole academy has become restless.

By the way, I spent my days unable to calm down, too. 
The new song’s score was still in my bag, yet to be in a bug-ridden state. 
(I wish I could ask Len-kun for advice, though……)
Since that day, we haven’t exchanged a single word. 
I’m the one who put the distance between us, but more than that, it felt like he was avoiding me.

(How did we talk to each other until now?)
We weren’t sitting beside each other anymore after the seat change, it’s only now that I realized that we mostly don’t have points of contact. 
It’s Len-kun who calls out to me to the point of it being annoying, it’s also him who makes the jokes.
As for me, unable to even find the start of a conversation, I can’t catch the timing either.

Chika calls out to me in a worried voice one way or another, but I can’t keep relying on being spoiled by her like that. 
Because it’s meaningless unless I do something about it myself.
(What I can do now……)


After school that day, I decided to visit the AV room after not having been there for 3 days.
Just like Meiko-sensei said, Len-kun wasn’t there.

“Lately, it looks like Len hasn’t shown his face at club activities either?”

When music class ended, Meiko-sensei told me to stay behind. 
Well sure enough, it was about club activities.  
From the word ‘either’, I realized that she knows that I haven’t shown my face, too.

“Let me tell you, clashing with someone over a difference in musicality happens often, I won’t get mad over something like that. I won’t tell you to participate in club activities every day, either. Sometimes you feel like it, sometimes you don’t, right?”

Shrugging her shoulders, Sensei mischievously asks “Isn’t that so?”
When she sees with her own eyes that I nod my head in silence, she suddenly changes her expression.

“But you know, I just don’t want you to have any regrets. Do you understand?”

To the supportive words, this time I let out my voice and replied with a “Yes”.
Sensei smiled and said “Good”, mussing up my hair……
Until the end, she didn’t force me to do it like this or like that.
Then, she made me remember the most important thing.

(……I said I’d do it, didn’t I?)
Certainly, joining the Light Music Club happened by going with the course of events.
But the one who decided to make a new Haniwa song with them, was me.
Nobody else but me.

Even with or without the thing with Len-kun.
At least from my beloved Haniwa’s music, I won’t run away, I don’t want to run away……!

Having made up my mind, I came back here {to the AV room}.

 Setting up the keyboard, with a mechanical pencil in one hand, I unfold the score.
Reciting the lyrics I thought of while I play the music, I check if they’re easy to sing and if they fit with the sound. 
While I’m playing it over and over again, it seemed like I cheered up a little.

“I thought I heard something, so it was Otosaki.”

Slowly opening the door, Tsurumaki-kun peeked his head in, carrying his bass on his shoulder.
Without Len-kun beside him, it looks like he came to practice on his own.

“You want use the room, right? If I’m a bother, I can go elsewhere……”
“No need. Rather, won’t I be a bother for writing the lyrics?”
“It’s totally fine.”

I did deny it, but half of it was a lie.
Instead of Tsurumaki-kun, I’m the one who’s worrying about too many things. 
As I’m hesitating over how to broach the subject, an uncertain voice calls out to me.

“I don’t think it’s my business, but…… Is it okay, like this?”
“I’m sorry for causing you trouble.”
“Nah, we don’t particularly think of it as trouble. Even before Otosaki joined, we’ve clashed with Len-kun many times, and we probably will again, for the sake of continuing the band.”
“…… Me too, I feel that it’s not right to run away anymore.”
“I see, then I’m glad. Because you know, Len really likes Otosaki’s piano-playing.”
“My….. piano-playing……”

It was the first time I heard it.
When I blink in surprise, Tsurumaki-kun bursts into laughter, as if he’s being nostalgic. 
“I guess it was during our first year. After school, he was awfully boastful that he’s passing by to listen to the piano, but to be honest, you’d call that a stalker.”
(……Why, that’s……)
I certainly did play the piano and sing in the music room after school for a period of time.
But I did it secretly and alone, I didn’t think at all that anyone saw me.

“Can I say one last thing?”
I’m too surprised to give a reaction, Tsurumaki-kun continued without minding it. 
“You might not be able to tell because he’s too much of a playboy, but he’s been looking at Otosaki since a long time ago. To be precise, since the entrance ceremony.”

Len-kun, was always, watching me?
How much do I…… know about Len-kun?

I only watched him when it was convenient for me.
Always his smiling face, I don’t know his mad face nor his crying face.

“I’m, really…… I just kept running away……”

“–– It’s hot today, too. I’ll open the window.”
Probably, I think he pretended not to have heard me.
Speaking as if he was talking to himself, Tsurumaki-kun opened the window wide.
Together with the wind, I can hear someone’s voice.

(This voice……)
I couldn’t possibly mistake it for anyone else’s voice.
It’s Len-kun.
A capella without even the guitar’s accompaniment, he’s singing ‘Crybaby Boyfriend’.

It’s, Miku-san and Len-kun’s song.
Then, the new song– I want to make it mine and Len-kun’s song. 
My honest feelings, the time we’ve spent together until now, I’m going to turn them into lyrics.

There’s not even a week left until the cultural festival. 
It’s my first time composing lyrics, I don’t know how far I’ll be able to write them.
(But, I want to do it. I want to convey it to Len-kun.)

“Tsurumaki-kun, tell Len-kun. That I’ll definitely deliver the new song’s lyrics.”

From that day, shutting myself in the AV room after school every day, I immersed myself in writing the lyrics. 
For the sake of going to see Len-kun, carrying the new song.


(The sky is so high……)
A refreshing wind blows through the little bit dry air.
From the window of the Home Ec room that has closed its stall for the day, I looked up at the clear autumn sky.

This year’s cultural festival was also blessed with fair weather, on the second day, more guests came than any previous year. 
Chika said: “There are a lot of guardians, but the majority of the guests are intending to see Haniwa’s concert” apparently. 
(Tsurumaki-kun also said that all the tickets are sold out.)

When I checked my watch, there were less than 10 minutes to 3’o clock.
When the Dance Club’s performance ends, it’ll finally be time for Haniwa’s concert.

(I wonder if Len-kun saw my text……)
I sent him the new song’s lyrics in a text, after finally finishing them last night.
At first I thought I’d meet him and hand them over directly, but when I thought of our plans for the day, it would’ve been difficult. Our turns for watching over the class’s display were different, and I’m in charge of the Home Ec club’s cash register, too.
So I chose the quicker and more certain method, but there’s no reply yet.

I wonder what Len-kun is thinking about now?
I wonder how he feels about me?

Uneasiness kept floating to the front of my mind. 
What’s more, when I think of what I’m about to do, my legs tremble.

(…… No, I’ve decided already that I won’t run away anymore.)
Taking off the apron, I left the Home Ec room behind.

A throng of people had already appeared around the stage that had been set up in the courtyard.
The Dance Club having finished their performance, I can see them going off stage while responding to the cheers. 
“I have to hurry……”
“Where to?”
A voice answered to the words that I had whispered, not intending for anyone to hear them. 
When I turn around in surprise, Haraoka-san and the Fan Club members had gathered there.

(But the concert is starting soon, is it okay if they hadn’t taken their places yet?)
Yeah right, as if I could ask them that.
The realization hits me, seeing their stern expressions.
That they came to see me precisely because it’s before the concert begins.

Surrounding me, the girls begin to walk. 
Forcing me to walk with them like that, with me in the center, they end up pulling me away from the stage.
The great migration finally stopped when we arrived before the stalls that were closing up as the sale time ended.  

From a distance, I can hear Haniwa’s performance.
Though the girls should care about it, too, they don’t try to move at all. 
As I thought, it looks like they don’t want to give me the stage.

“How do you feel about Len-kun?”
Without any preliminary remark, Haraoka-san directly stepped forward.
While suddenly feeling like I’m about to draw back, I steel my guts and hold my ground.
“I feel that I want to properly face him.”
“What the heck, have you looked in a mirror before?  Or Otosaki-san, were you actually an excessively self-conscious person?”
Considering her shrill voice to be a signal, the other people began to laugh with disgusted looks, too.

The same goes for me, it’s not like I believe in myself yet.
Like Haraoka-san said, it’s possible that I’m an excessively self-conscious person.
But that isn’t a reason to make it all right to run away.

“…… I’m sorry for not making it clear until now.”
“Ha? What are you apologizing for?”
It seemed like this time, it wasn’t irony or anything, but a genuine question.
Looking around at the dumbfounded Fan Club members, I take a single deep breath.
Then, sticking out my chest so my voice won’t waver, I announce the answer that I finally grasped.

“I was scared and turned away my eyes from Haraoka-san and the others, and from my true feelings as well…… But I’m going to end that today.”
“……People say whatever they want, you know.”
“Yeah. So watch me.”

Smiling at Haraoka-san, whose expression stiffened, I ran off. 
The performance had already started on stage, the new song’s intro is being played.

Hurry, hurry……!
Unless I give it my all here, I’ll regret for the rest of my life.
The chilly air makes my lungs scream, but I don’t have time to mind that.

(….Huh? Is that the prelude?)
In the score, the singing should’ve started, but the performance is continuing even now.

Did it get rearranged? What for?
Did they wait for me? Why?

When I take the mike from the staff, my eyes met with Len-kun’s as the lights shine down on him.
The surprise lasted for a moment, Len-kun welcomed me with a smile as bright as the sun. 
I smile back the best I can, and danced out onto the stage.

“Like      Hate      I don’t get it … I hate you
I like you              It can’t be           Anything but     I like you
Like        and        Hate      I don’t get it
It can’t be stopped Like Hate”  

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