Volume 1 - CH 2.1

Chapter 2 – Lively Daily Changes (Part 1)

────My day started early.

I left the house at a time when there was no one on the street and walked to school.

And while waiting for the school gates to open, I spent my time around the school...that was my daily routine.

What I think is typical of rural schools is that there are unpaved dirt roads in the area. It's a busy running track during club activity hours, but now it's the best road to walk because there are no people around yet.

...It is soothingly quiet.

If you listen carefully, all you can hear is the chirping of birds or the rustling of twigs.

I always thought it would be easier if it was always filled with sounds like that.

As I was walking along thinking that, another daily routine arrived just a few moments later.

"Good morning, Ritsu~. You look like an old man staring blankly at the sky."

A pat on my back made me turn around to see Suzune Kirisaki, who was in my class, with a seductive smile on her face.

Her light hair, slicked back around her shoulders, fluttered in the wind. Her eyes were stern, and you could say she was more pretty than cute.

As if to emphasize her cool appearance, she wore a pair of large headphones around her neck. Her appearance may remind you of a gal, but that's far from the truth. Although she is a brash and outspoken person, she can take good care of people and has an aura that makes you want to call her "Nee-san!".

But I've known her since middle school, and I don't worship her by calling her 'Nee-san', but as a comfortable chat buddy, we often spend time together.

This morning's exchange has also become our routine.

"Good morning, Kirisaki. Isn't it a bit rude to treat me like an old man?"

"Is that so? From a distance, you do look like an old man who is drinking tea on the terrace."

"Since when do you see me from a distance?"

"Since you came to this road? It's funny to see Ritsu in the twilight, so I kept an eye on you."

"Hooo. You have a good hobby."

"Thanks for the compliment. Ritsu is good at giving compliments."

"I'm not complimenting you!"

Kirisaki laughed happily at my joke and said, "Hahaha".

Seeing her like that, I couldn't help but smile.

"Let's go. You're free until school opens, aren't you?"

"Yeah, I guess so. I'll be there in a few hours as usual."

"I was planning on that too. Ahh, I brought a blanket today so we won't get cold."

"Oh, you're so sensitive and thoughtful."

"I'm a smart girl, right?"

She smiled proudly, and we walked side by side as usual.

We sat down on a bench in the middle of the street and put the blanket on our knees.

Sitting side by side on a quiet street, we must have looked like a couple from the outside.

Maybe we looked like we were making out, but it didn't look that way to me.

As if she could read my feelings, she said these words.

"I think every time we do this, people will misunderstand my relationship with Ritsu. "Don't you always meet him in the morning?", they would say."

"It's too late for that. Besides, no matter who we're with, the rumors will always speak for themselves."

"I suppose so. Oh, no, no. People love rumors like that. Just by seeing two people of the opposite sex together, they take it that way."

"Well, that's how it is. It's something the students are interested in. I'm sure most of it is probably due to envy, but you don't mind, do you, Kirisaki?"

"Yes. I don't care, and I won't change my behavior just because of rumors. But doesn't that apply to Ritsu as well?"

"I don't have to tell you."

We looked at each other in silence, but then we laughed.

Kirisaki narrowed her eyes and looked at the sky. I looked at her from the side.

...I can't hear it today either.

People definitely think about things, and even if they do, they might not say it.

We go through life separating our true intentions from our pretenses. I know and understand that this is what makes people's lives run smoothly. Telling the truth about everything will only cause trouble.

Even though I've always known this, I still feel uncomfortable with this pretense because I know how they really feel.

That's why I felt comfortable talking to Kirisaki.

Because I do not hear any inner voice that she hides...

"Kirisaki is very easy to talk to, huh? There doesn't seem to be any side to you that you're hiding."

"What are you talking about? Ritsu was the only one who said that."

"Really? Didn't everyone say that?"

"They didn't say that. Even if they did, the nuance was different."

When I tilted my head, she shrugged.

Then she sighed sullenly.

"What others call 'open and honest' is like a straightforward mature woman, and what Ritsu means is that I'm being who I am and not making things up... Am I wrong?"

"I never thought of you as a mature woman."

"Hey, that's rude, okay?"

"Sorry, sorry. But you don't want to be called a mature woman either, right?"

"Well, you're right. I don't think I'm that old. I just look different and calmer, just cooler than everyone else."

"You said it yourself. Why not just say 'mature'? It sounds better."

"Hahaha. Okay, let's call it that."

"Huh, so simple."

She giggled happily when I said that, then stood up straight and stretched her arms over her head.

When I saw her breathing comfortably, I felt my heart relax a little as well.

"This place is really nice, isn't it? Quiet and full of negative ions." [TN: It really was negative ions, positive ions are bad for the body. Google it if you're curious]

"Agreed. Well, as usual, this place is very healing. The air is so clean it makes me want to sleep...hoamm"

"Hhehe me too~. Of course it makes me sleepy, but there's another uncomfortable aspect too!"

"Eh, really?"

"It's nice to be able to enjoy nature here, but isn't it too cold in the winter?"

"I guess it is, if you ask me."

"This isn't a place for sunbathing, and if you don't bring a blanket like today, we'll freeze to death."

"Um, no, the cold is seasonal, but there are other cause."

"Other cause?"


Boys can wear double pants under their uniform pants and still feel comfortable.

So they are well prepared for the cold weather, and if they feel cold, it may only be felt on their faces.

On the other hand, girls wear skirts that don't protect them from the cold, so they look like they have a hard time in the winter.

Well, I guess they could protect themselves from the cold with stockings or something, but they couldn't wear as much protection as the boys.

Then Kirisaki showed off her long legs without hesitation, so it was only natural that she was cold.

When I looked at her legs thoughtfully, she showed a satisfied expression and then immediately changed to a smirking and provocative face.

Then she pulled back her blanket and showed me her skirt.

"Oh no, what are you looking at?"

"I wasn't trying to peek. It's just that it's winter and I'm curious, right?"

"Fufu. You pervert~."

"Don't judge me like that! I just did it because I thought you were cold... I mean, you should take better care of yourself. Even your skirt is too short!"

"It's okay. It looks cute when it's this short."

"But it's still too short."

She already looked very attractive, and when she dressed so provocatively...

Kirisaki sighed at my protest and looked bored.

When my eyes met hers, she lifted her skirt to a very compromising position and showed it to me.

"Well... Ritsu likes it, right──the bare legs?"

"Don't be silly. I only like smooth calves."

"Just right. Here~."

"Oops. I missed it."


We stared at each other in silence...and at almost the same time, I let out a 'pfft'.

It was funny, the ridiculous conversations we often had with each other, and of course I burst out laughing.

We had the same exchange every time, but I never got bored.

It's nice to be able to talk without worrying about anything, isn't it?

While I was thinking that and looking up at the sky, I felt a glance towards me, and when I tried to look at it, Kirisaki was actually looking at me.

"Um... is there something on my face?"

"...I want to ask Ritsu something. Is that okay?"

"Okay, what is it? You seem a little hesitant, but just ask."

"I see. Okay, I will ask you directly. Does Ritsu's girlfriend go to this school?"


I made a strange sound at this unexpectedly blunt question.

Kirisaki rolled her eyes at my reaction, then closed the distance between us and looked at me puzzled.

"Was I right? Did it hit the mark?"

"No, but... why are you asking all of a sudden?"

"Sakura told me, "Kaburagi-san's girlfriend is in this school! Even if there's someone like me... hiks, hiks.". I sensed it was just her acting, so I let it go, but I'm still a little curious."

"She's acting weird again..."

I sighed and slumped my shoulders.

I guess she probably saw me with Kurusu.

Well, I knew that such rumors were bound to happen when a man and a woman were together, and I knew that I had no choice but to let it pass...

"I'm afraid she'll make a bigger story out of it than it needs to be."

"Well, okay. Just take it easy. Sakura said there is nothing to worry about because this happens all the time. She's just worried because she has a rival for Ritsu."

"Is that so... For now, I'll pay her back later."

"Haha. Scary, scary~. Don't overdo it, okay."

Kirisaki grinned.

She was definitely planning something. She smiled a little mischievously, as if she had realized something, and gave a thumbs up.

"Oh, by the way, what have you been doing after school lately?"

"The same assignment as before. The teacher told me to help her with this and that."

"Hmmm. So it's the same as before. Why don't we hang out sometime?"

"Sorry. I don't think I have time for that. I'm trying to get better grades right now, so I need to make a good impression on the teacher."

"I see. But you work too much. Maybe you should stretch your wings once in a while."

"Well, that sounds good. No, no, it's hard to be a reliable person──"


"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. But, again. You really are an idiot, huh."

Kirisaki shrugged with a stunned expression on her face.

She seemed to have guessed what was going on, but she had no particular intention of stopping me.

"If it's Ritsu's business, it must be for someone else... But sacrificing too much for others is not good, you know".

"I didn't want to do that. I just wanted to draw a line in the sand."

"Really? Well, I know it's useless for me to say anything, but..."

"Hahaha. This is my own will."

"Huh. Self-sacrifice is amazing. I can't do it. I'm too busy doing my own thing."


She sighed and looked dejected, but I laughed at her.

She looked at me sideways and puffed up her cheeks.


"Just don't keep it to yourself. If you need anything, just tell me. It's lonely when you can't rely on me──"

Kirisaki said rudely and poked me right in the nose.

◇ ◇ ◇

"It was hard to get out of there..."

I looked at my watch and sighed.

After Kirisaki entered the staff room, I waited for her outside.

It had been about ten minutes and there was still no sign of her coming out.

Well, like me, she is often relied upon by teachers, so she must have gotten into some trouble.

With that in mind, I opened my dictionary and studied for the quiz.

After flipping through a few pages, I heard a voice say (Today should be a success!).

"Good morning, Kaburagi-san. It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"

Looking in the direction of the greeting, I saw a person with large, dark eyes who seemed to be coming toward me.

Her shiny black hair was long enough to reach her waist, and her aura and appearance reminded me of 'Yamato Nadeshiko', a traditionally modest Japanese woman.

She is, Sakura Hinamori, if only by her appearance, she exudes a gentle aura that would make anyone like her.

Yes, if you just look at her appearance...

(Fufu! What do you think of my figure! The sunlight shining from behind me can be considered 'God's grace', right? It's perfect. Too perfect! There's no one who wouldn't fall in love with it!)

And, well, both sides of her attitude are very clear.

If you don't know her true nature, you will definitely be fascinated by her, as she herself said.

In fact, many say that the number of boys who were fooled by her gentle aura and confessed their feelings for her is countless.

Well, from my point of view, that wouldn't be possible.

I looked at Hinamori who smiled at me.

"Good morning. Hinamori, as always, you're very charming."

I said a short greeting and an honest opinion and looked back at my dictionary.

I had a language test every week, so it wasn't easy. And the scope is very wide.

And now, just when I was about to concentrate on my studies, she grabbed my shoulder and asked, "Aren't you ignoring me too much?".

"Shouldn't you be studying for the language test as well, Hinamori?"

"It doesn't matter, I'm perfect at everything. I'm a beautiful girl who is well-behaved, innocent, pure-hearted, and talented."

"You can't say that yourself."

"That's true, but there's no way to hide it, it's leaked out." (Oh, how sinful I am. How could I be so charming in every way?)

"Yeah, yeah. Good to know."

I glanced back at my dictionary.

Hmmm... There were a lot of things that were hard to remember today...

"If I don't concentrate, I'll miss the perfect score."

"Ignoring me again is an insult! Here!"

"Uhhh! Don't hit my head so suddenly. You know what? A blow to the head will kill my brain cells. What if a word gets stuck in my head and I don't get a perfect score?"

"The language test or me. Which is more important?"

"Of course I choose the language test. It's a global world, you know."

".........." (Instant answer! Ugh...this guy!!!)

Hinamori was shaking with anger and her hands seemed to be out of control.

And when she saw me still not getting carried away with her game, she finally gave up and sighed loudly, saying "Haaaa".

"Oh, that's all for today?"

"Why are you so cold to me, Kaburagi-san? Even I, the one who has always been favored, will cry because of your rude reaction..."

"You said you would cry... No, no, you're mentally strong, you'll be fine."

"Well, yes, but..." (I think Kaburagi-san could be a bit more awkward, and a bit more panicked~. It makes me feel like I'm being played... and it frustrates me!)

So you admit it... You look very arrogant for some reason. It turns out you're still as confident as ever.

What's in your heart is so strange and ridiculous...

I sighed.

"Huft. What does Hinamori want from me?"

"I want a normal response. Kaburagi-san, I feel like you're just cold to me and──" (Eventually, you'll attack me with your lust and I'll fight back in a spectacular way. This scenario would be the best)

"Unfortunately, it's a wish that won't be fulfilled. I won't let myself be provoked when I know that Hinamori's behavior is just an act."

"An act? What are you talking about?" (Is it that obvious? I mean... I thought I was acting well. But how could Kaburagi-san know that?)

"You're so obvious. Well, Hinamori is a good actress, right? The people around you don't notice it at all, and that's admirable, really. But your acting isn't good enough for me."

"It's not acting..."

Hinamori's mouth dropped open in frustration.

As if she had given up and lost... she bowed her head in resignation.

Judging from her appearance alone, it looked like she was sulking and silent. But...

(No matter what I do, I can't break through Kaburagi-san's defense. I'll have to attack more quickly. Humans are always vulnerable to unexpected attacks. I must attack him when he's surprised... and that will turn the tide!!!)

And the inside of her heart remained as dark as ever.

...Really, she never gave up and didn't want to lose.

"I'm hurt. Kaburagi-san played with me..."

"Don't make misleading statements."

"That's right. I have a micron-sized scar on my heart."

"That's too small to be considered a wound."

"I'm too injured to move...hiks...hiks..."

"You're too bad at acting to cry, but...huft. Anyway, what do you want me to do?"

"Please...take care of me gently. Can you carry me to class like a princess?"

"Carry you like a princess..."

(FUFUFU. It's annoying, isn't it? A spoiled request with a look up. This is definitely worth a thousand points! But I'm sure Kaburagi-san won't be able to do that. Let's push him while he's embarrassed!)

That's what she thought... She's so stubborn because she never learns.

Well, there's only one thing I can do.

If I don't do something like Hinamori expects... she will be defeated.

I grabbed her hand and pulled her towards me.

"Okay. You want to be carried like a princess, right?"


Her face flushed with a cracked voice.

A sweet scent tickled my nostrils and made me drunk... but I looked at her without smiling.

Even Hinamori panicked and thought (Eh, what? Why!?!?!?) and seemed quite surprised.

"Come on. It's hard to carry you if you don't come closer."

"Ugh, hee, wa...wait!"

"Just leave it to me. If you're shy, just close your eyes. I'll be careful."

"...All right."

She replied weakly, closing her eyes. Her slender shoulders trembled.

I think this is enough. I don't know if I can go any further.

I mean, I was embarrassed myself.

"I was just joking. You're always weak when you're counterattacked, Hinamori."

I poked Hinamori's head and shook her shoulder, then her face turned bright red and she looked at me with disappointment.

"How wicked! You're playing with a maiden's heart!"

"Oh... But it's the same with you, isn't it? You're a hundred years too young to try to seduce me by acting so transparent."

"What are you talking about?"

"Don't try to look innocent, okay."

Hinamori was good at attacking, but she was very weak when she was attacked back.

We've known each other since the beginning of high school, but nothing has gone according to her plan.

Everything was calculated. Everything is according to her plan. Her life must be like that.

That's why she's so vulnerable to people like me who act unexpectedly.

(...I got hit again. But...I won't lose next time! I'll definitely make him confess his love to me, and then──I'll reject him immediately!!!)

But still, she was really eager to push me to confess my feelings to her and was thinking of dumping me.

I looked at Hinamori, who looked like a poor girl, and sighed.

"By the way, Kaburagi-san. Has anything good happened recently?"

"What do you mean?"

"Um. Well..." (How should I ask him? I think he'll be evasive if I ask him directly, "Do you have a girlfriend now?". I have to ask slowly and carefully so he doesn't run away. Fufu. Perfect...yosh!)

I understand. It was on her mind the whole time.

Well, Hinamori always thinks about things before she says something. I can hear it even when I don't want to listen.

You're very persistent, aren't you? Really.

"That was it. I wonder if you have anything good to say about your relationship with women."

"Relationships with women?"

"Yes! For example, do you have a new lover, or a new girlfriend, or a new girl...how?"

"Don't they all mean the same thing?"

"Well, tell me about it. Whatever the term is, it doesn't really matter."

From the way she acted, it seemed like she saw me with Kurusu, right?

Hinamori is a member of the student council, so it's not surprising that she saw me volunteering and working with Kurusu.

So maybe she thought Kirisaki would find out. That's why she acted like that before, to get information from her.

But you know... you're too bad at investigating things! I also tried to hold back my laughter,


"What's so funny?"

"N-Nothing. I just didn't expect you to ask me that."

"Really? Well, okay. Come on, just answer the question."

I thought she was really going to ask slowly and carefully according to her plan.

But the question came right out, faster than I expected. I couldn't help but laugh.

I tried not to let my face show that I had figured it out and consciously tried to calm down.

I looked at Hinamori, who seemed to think she was smart and had a clear expression on her face, but I could see the curiosity in her eyes.

"When you say the thing about relationships with women. I think it's because I don't have to deal with my older sister who has a bad drinking habit these days."

"Uhm, older sister...?"

"Yes. She's always been annoying. She always makes trouble after drinking with her coworkers after work."

"Hee~. So Kaburagi-san has an older sister."

"Yes, that's right. By the way, do you have any siblings, Hinamori?"

"No, I'm an only child."

"Yes, of course you are."

"Mou...what do you mean by that?"

Hinamori frowned at her dissatisfaction with my answer and turned her eyes to me.

Her puffy cheeks were so pretty that I wanted to touch them.

But I couldn't fall for her provocations, so I looked at the sky and made an indifferent face.

"Because Hinamori is pretty cute, right?"

"Wh-what do you mean!?"

"Usually, you show a side of yourself that can do everything on its own. But I think you're actually a lonely person who really wants to do things with others."

"That is true. But on what basis..."

"You often look at others who are having fun, or should I say, you really want to join them."


"Do you know how clear the look of envy is on your face? As they say, the eyes speak louder than words."

"Muu, it can't be helped."

Perhaps because I had reduced Hinamori's mentality too much, she slumped her shoulders and lowered her head.

In her mind, she complained, (How can I look so obvious~!).

But she quickly recovered, and while blushing, she immediately straightened her posture and turned to face me.

"Well, all right. It doesn't matter if I show my weakness. Failure is the beginning of success." (This failure is also a stepping stone to defeating Kaburagi-san next time... Think of it that way.)

"I see. You're still as strong and positive as ever."

"After all, I am perfect." (Because the perfect beautiful girl is the strongest in everything! I won't be intimidated by such a thing~!)

She was full of strength and smiled cheerfully as she said this.

She has a wild inner voice, but I really like her hard work and dedication.

I guess that's why it's not hard for me to talk to her.

I never felt bad about it, even though her inner voice was really annoying.

"So, Kaburagi-san. What do you want to play next?"

"Is it a game?"

"That's right! The score is still tied at 50-50."

"I don't know what game you're talking about. Are you still going to play that 'Tokimeki Game'?" [TN: The Tokimeki Game is like the 'Aishiteru'/'I love you' game. So both parties will tease each other, and the one who blushes will lose].

"Tokimeki game?"

"Yes. I'm talking about the hobby that Hinamori always tries to build around you and make you feel superior."


Hinamori's expression was so clear that I knew I had hit the nail on the head.

And just in time, the door to the staff room opened and Kirisaki stepped out.

"Wait──. Is this another couple comedy? You two have been getting along since this morning."

"Su...Suzune-chan! That's not true!"

"Really? I could hear that conversation all the way to the teachers' room, and even the teachers said so."

"Oh, I see. If we're already in sync, it means you'll reach your goal soon. Hinamori likes me, right?"

"Wait, Kaburagi-san! Don't say whatever you want!"

"Huh? Didn't Sakura say 'I like him, Kaburagi-san' many times before?"

"Suzune-chan... that's... kind of a lie."

"Is it really a lie? So what you did to me was just for fun. Is that what you mean...?"

"No, no. It wasn't for fun."

"Hmm. So you mean, you're serious?"

Hinamori, cornered, turned her head from side to side.

Her reaction was funny, and she ended up in a bad mood.

Hinamori, perhaps in a state of desperation, grabbed Kirisaki's shoulder and began to shake her.

"Don't torture me, you two! Two against one is not fair."

"It's called divine retribution."

"Aren't you two more in sync?" (The way they exchange, you two are more like a real couple than me! Damn it!)

Hinamori's shout made me and Kirisaki look at each other.

After a moment of silence, I continued to laugh out loud.

Hinamori's cheeks bulged in disapproval and she said, "Please don't laugh at me!".

While I was enjoying this ridiculous conversation, I suddenly heard a murmur of voices.


Most of them were boys' voices. What they said were compliments on someone's appearance, such as "She's so cute!".

When I turned my attention to the voices, Kurusu walked toward me.

I think she must have noticed my presence... our eyes met for a moment.

But she quickly looked away.

(Greetings to Kaburagi-kun...? It seems like it would be inconvenient if there were people around... But I would like to greet him at least)

She thought about not greeting me out of consideration, so she tried to walk past me.

"Kurusu, good morning!"

(Eh... he greeted me?)

I don't think she expected to be greeted by me first. She stopped, blinked her big eyes a few times, and froze.

She wasn't the only one surprised, the other students in the hallway were surprised too, and for a moment there was silence in the normally noisy hallway.

Without paying attention to her surroundings, she put a smile on her face.

(Greetings, from Kaburagi-kun... I must do my best)

I just watched her trying her best without losing my expression.

Kurusu slowly took out his tablet and looked scared...well, to everyone but me, she still looked indifferent.

She showed only one word on the screen, 【Good morning】, and left the place with quick steps.

(I'm glad... he greeted me. Fufu)

The voice I heard as she left was a voice I couldn't see from the way she acted. I could only laugh at the voice.

If only they could hear that voice around them, they would change in an instant.

The two who were standing next to me didn't know what was going through their minds. They looked at each other in confusion.

"Huh? Kurusu-san just said hello to you...right?"

"That's right. I've never seen her greet Ritsu before either."

"Huh? I think she can at least say hello."

"Is that so?"

"Well, that's how it is. Let's go."

With the two of them tilting their heads at me as if a 'question mark' had appeared over their heads, I continued my steps to the classroom. I breathed a sigh of relief when Kurusu returned my greeting.

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