Chapter 14 – Chagrin
“There’s hearsay about something happening in the cafeteria on Monday.”
Azusa smiled while eating her lunch.
“Something being spoken about…, I’m not someone who will become the target of gossip. So what manner of hearsay is it?”
“That a man was angry, and that man was apologized to.”
Ryou became disgruntled while eating his bread.
The place is the rooftop during lunch.
In this place the ones who spoke before were Azusa, Ryou then Erika, Saki is also there.
Wanting to not meet for at least a week, Ryou intended to wait for his feelings to calm down. Even when not being with her, when he closes his eyes he sees Erika’s gentle smiling face, a cheerful smiling face, a delightful smile comes to mind. Even after not meeting for two days it’s far from cooling down, and Ryou who is feeling this finds himself at a loss on what to do regarding his first love.
Because Erika and Azusa have been alternating sending invitation messages before lunch and returning home, there was a feeling of guilt at declining them, Ryou had a hunch that his feeling may be getting more heated. When Erika sent an invitation message before lunch on Wednesday, he raised a white flag in his mind and sent an affirmative reply.
At the mere sight of the name on the response message, there was a sense of it being lovely.
And though it wasn’t decorated with emojis, Erika’s plain sentence had a sense of being lovely.
Even though there was the decision to not meet for a week, it fragilely collapsed on Wednesday, his own decision, intent, is it so weak, Ryou wonders to himself as he makes his way up the stairs with a characteristic grief of a beginner in love drifting from his back.
And so, it arrived at the current time, talking with Azusa.
“Your surrounding friends are also all interesting, aren’t they?”
Ryou looks doubtful, and says while slanting looking upwards.
“Well, are they interesting? I only see idiots. And that ‘also’ is unnecessary.”
When Ryou says so, Saki pulls on his sleeve. Saki talking to Ryou, and Ryou talking to Saki hasn’t happened yet, Ryou’s eyes are rounded in surprise and looks at her.
When they match eyes, Saki points at Ryou’s face, not understanding the meaning of that, Ryou points at himself and a perplexed facial expression floats to the surface.
“Uhhm, what is it?”
Azusa, who is surprised at Saki’s actions to Ryou, reveals a smile towards Ryou.
“It seems she’s saying you are ‘also’ interesting.”
“Hah!? Is, is that so…?”
Though unable to comprehend it, Ryou looks towards Saki for confirmation, Saki shakes her head. While not taking his eyes off of Saki, Ryou says in a murmur.
“…seems it’s something else, scheming glasses.”
When Ryou says so, Saki’s cheeks ballooned, and Azusa’s eyebrows twitch.
“You…, could it be what you just said was aimed at me?”
“Eh? Ah, well, sorry. Please forget about it, it only came out by mistake.”
Azusa’s stern face became furthermore stern.
“I see now, when I’m not with you, that’s how I’m called, it’s all clear now. I’ll remember so.”
“No, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
Ryou only noticed now that his verbal slip was considerably bad. When Ryou has a flustered expression while apologizing to Azusa, Saki starts to giggle.
Azusa and Ryou both have a look of surprise, Erika who had remained silent until now with her head down, looks up and vocalized her astonishment.
“Saki’s laughing! A laughing Saki is the cutest after all!!”
Erika embraced Saki while saying so. Saki who was embraced received it without resistance. Ryou who was a little envious of Saki seeing that, didn’t let it show on his face. Then Azusa who smoothed her feathers says to Ryou.
“Out of respect for Saki’s laughing, I’ll pardon you for earlier. Be careful next time.”
“O-oh… So what was the meaning from just now?”
Ryou while expressing great thanks to Saki in his innermost thoughts, questions Azusa about Saki who shook her head before.
“A little while ago, I believe it’s to say that you are more interesting.”
Azusa says so without thinking. Ryou felt admiration for Azusa like that.
“Really? I couldn’t comprehend it.”
Azusa shrugged her shoulders.
“We’ve been together for more than a year. Erika is the best at reading Saki’s expressions, not just skillful but also quick.”
Ryou had serious admiration for both Erika and Azusa. At the same time, he felt he had glimpse at the good relationship between the three.
Then, Azusa who is agitated looks at Ryou.
“However, it’s frustrating.”
Ryou sees Azusa’s expression, and wonders if he made another verbal slip.
“Saki showing us her laugh for the first time, it took two weeks. Yet for you it was one week.”
“No, that is, it’s because you two are here. Would she show it if it was me alone?”
Ryou, understanding it wasn’t because of his mistake, while being relieved in his heart, said what he thought. But Azusa shook her head.
“It wouldn’t change. For her, it’s rare to laugh like that in front of people other than us. Especially in front of boys.”
“Heh? Is it that unusual?”
At any rate, Ryou became aware that he was looking at something rare.
Azusa shrugged her shoulders and says.
“It’s something you can be pleased about isn’t it? As far as I can tell it’s the first time, for Saki to like a man.”
Ryou who is puzzled asked Azusa.
“There’s no deeper meaning?”
“Nope. To the end, it’s as a male friend.”
Azusa declares so clearly.
Even if Ryou heard so, he couldn’t comprehend. Why would himself be liked.
“But, what for?”
“Well…, no, I might understand, but I don’t plan on saying. Don’t worry about it.”
“Heehh? You know why? I don’t get it.”
“Vaguely. But since it’s not clear I won’t say.”
Ryou lets out a sigh, and stopped asking further. With Ryou like that, Azusa puts away her lunch then opened her mouth.
“Now then, why have you not spoken Erika since a while ago? Your eyes haven’t even met. Erika’s also been like that for some time, so why haven’t you spoken?”
The two who were called out by Azusa, moved at the same time.
In that way, even if the two met on the rooftop, they mutually looked away at once, and when their eyes match when glancing, immediately they look away. The two have repeated that several times. As if such an appearance was natural, the two have not conversed. As for Erika, it seems like she forgot to open her mouth. Saki is still laughing.
Seeing the two who are noticeably in a state of unrest, Azusa suppresses letting out a smile, and looks at them with a composed expression.
Among the two who were called out, the first to raise their voice is Erika. Though she attempted to make as if nothing was up, she failed while blushing.
“Th-there’s, n-n-nothing like that. R-right?”
In addition there was great discomposure in her tone, neither Ryou or Erika noticed the unrest of the other party.
“Y-yeah, th-that’s quite right. Sch-scheming glasses, is being strange.”
The shaken Ryou once again made a verbal gaffe, Azusa’s eyebrows once again twitched. However it doesn’t seem as if Ryou noticed it.
Though Azusa is looking at Ryou sharply, he doesn’t notice he is being looked at. Azusa breathed a sigh. It’s especially strange when their eyes come together, the Ryou from before didn’t seem to really pay attention to his own line of sight.
(Could it be, mutual first love…? I know it’s Erika’s first, him as well…?)
Azusa looks at the appearance of this day’s Ryou and Erika, and that Ryou has fallen in love with Erika is clearly understood, then why the invitations from yesterday and the day before declined, isn’t understood. However, it was guessed to be trouble over his first love.
Though she slightly couldn’t understand that feeling, the plan is on schedule and is proceeding as it should, she chuckled in her mind.
Halting her thoughts, her eyes return to the two, the same things are happening again. When their gazes match, they look away in a hurry, when they glance, and it comes together, they avert their sights. All while being silent.
What to do now, Azusa sighs in her heart, come to think of it, that she hasn’t taken photos or videos of the current Erika is recalled, taking out her phone, she began to record a video. This time it’s not only Erika, but was taken at an angle that the two of them were in it. While taking it Azusa looks to Saki, when Saki’s eyes line up with Azusa she understands Azusa’s intention and takes out her own phone to start taking photos.
If it was the usual Ryou and a camera was pointed at him, he would notice even if it’s from behind him, but now all his attention is going towards the girl who is his first love, so he wasn’t aware.
Because all attention is on the man who is her first love, Erika also doesn’t notice it.
After Azusa is finished taking an approximately five minute video, she put away her phone and calls out to Ryou.
“Sakuragi-kun, lunch time will end soon, if we’re not going to go together, shouldn’t you start going down?”
Ryou who is taken aback confirms so with his watch, and stands up in a rush.
“That’s right. Well then, I’ll be leaving ahead.”
Taken aback by Ryou’s words, Erika suddenly called out.
By reflex Ryou’s eyes met with Erika’s, immediately pointing his gaze downwards he asked.
“What is it?”
While also facing downwards, Erika said right away.
“Today, I would like to return together…”
Hearing what Erika said, Ryou’s attention was shifted, the red faced Erika who spoke so with her eyes downcast was excessively cute, almost involuntarily replying with ‘fine’ Ryou quickly suppressed his mouth, and swallowed his words which were about to be said.
Erika looks up at Ryou who wasn’t saying anything, and spoke timidly. Naturally with upturned eyes.
“Is today no good…?”
Feeling as if his heart was being gripped tightly Ryou, he takes his eyes off of Erika, and said without pausing.
“It’s bad, I have to rush to my part time job. Well, see you.”
Saying so, he turned around and retreated from the rooftop.
Erika who saw Ryou off lets out a big sigh. Azusa puts her hand on Erika’s shoulders and gently says to her.
“You only have to invite him again.”
“That’s right…, when I think about finally seeing him again, but couldn’t talk at all… haa.”
To Erika who once again sighs heavily, Azusa says.
“Do your best Erika. You’ll be able to speak normally right away.”
Erika shook her head.
“What to do…, Sakuragi-kun’s appearance was also somewhat strange.”
From Erika’s few words, Azusa can tell that Erika has not noticed Ryou’s feelings. Perhaps, it can be said that Ryou has not noticed Erika’s feelings as well (That’s more or less understandable in regards for a man to think that the school’s idol is in love with him, would be greatly conceited). Thinking about what can be done, this time it’s Azusa who lets out a big sigh.