*The last remaining piece. For clarification, this is a flashback scene and unfinished.
This is definitely not a love story!
What is love?
“Koi” and “Ai.” Together, “Ren’ai.”
What is “to like?” What about to romantically love? To have a strong desire for?
If you look at love in society, the love in dramas, the love in anime and manga, the love that floats around everyone’s heads—
To want to protect someone. To hold someone dear. To want to be with them. To have a happy life together.
Do you need someone else to love? Can it be a one-way street with that fixation in your mind, with that construction in your heart—
It’s difficult. People don’t understand it. Because love has parts to it that one person may never see.
But when I had my first love, I didn’t even consider this sort of hard-to-understand discourse. Because for me, it was very simple.
I was in love with her. That was all. I didn’t have to explain these feelings to anyone. People could see it clearly. Even if they couldn’t describe it, even if they couldn’t put their finger on it, it was identifiable, it was easily noticeable.
That’s right. There’s no point in questioning something unless it contradicts itself. I was in love with her, plain and simple. Anyone could see that.
That’s why, in an empty classroom on that particular day, I ended up in a big pinch.
“You like Kizuna-chan, don’t you?”
The fruit milk that Yubiwa Mui had treated me to sprayed from my mouth.
“Gross! What do you think you’re doing!?”
“H-How did you know!?”
“Hah? Are you really asking that? Or more like, were you trying to hide it? You were making it so obvious that anyone could tell…”
“T-That’s impossible! I never talk with her! I always keep my distance from her! I make sure no one sees when I clean her desk in the morning and when I put fresh flowers in her shoe locker every day!”
“That was you? …Disgusting. You’re absolutely disgusting.”
“Rude! Those were nice flowers!”
“It’s bad enough that you stare at Kizuna-chan all day with that creepy smirk on your face…but to think you were already a full-blown stalker. Forget it…I was going to ask you for a favor, but I changed my mind. Actually, I do need to ask you a favor. Hey, can you go die?”
“What’s with you! You’re talking to me like I did something wrong! All I wanted was to make sure that Adachi-san would always have something to give her a smile at the end of the day.”
“You’re kidding, right? Do you know how many times she’s called me at night to cry about someone bullying her by putting weeds in her locker…?”
“Eh…? But I was sure that I put in fresh irises…”
“Ah, I see. So you just started it. Well, all the other guys that like Kizuna-chan started putting flowers in her locker too.”
“What was that!? Adachi-san is that popular!? And what the hell! Those guys need to get their own gimmick!”
“In any case, do you get it now? You’re being a bother for Kizuna-chan, so knock it off.”
“B-But…who will wipe her desk in the mornings then…?”
“She doesn’t need that kind of useless gesture!”
“That can’t be. Yubiwa-san, are you saying that you don’t clean your desk at all? You keep it like some kind of pigsty, full of eraser crumbs and lead dust…”
“W-What’s wrong with that!?”
“So this was your doing then…The truth is that yesterday, I found some biscuit crumbs on Adachi-san’s desk while she was out changing for gym class. So that means…you were passing her snacks during class, weren’t you!?”
“Why are you trying to antagonize me when you’re the one doing something so creepy!”
“You’ll make her fat! Please stop!”
“Stop acting like you’re her mother!”
The conversation came to a halt as we both panted to catch our breaths. Yubiwa Mui…all that I knew of her was that she was close friends with Adachi Kizuna. But to think that a friend of Adachi-san would be like this…how horrible. She was clearly a bad influence! No doubt she was one of those loose, know-it-all girls that always tried to butt into other people’s business.
“I-I’ll protect Adachi-san from you!”
“That’s my line, damn it!”
I shot up from my seat and stared down at Yubiwa Mui. A slender, fashionable girl with thick, brown hair tied into a sidetail and an adequate amount of curves on her body. Perhaps from a normal point of view, you could say that she was attractive. But right now, with her brows knitted together and a sharp glare returned to me, I could only think that she was truly the face of my enemy.
“I see…so you came here to declare war, huh?”
My statement came out shaky and high-pitched, as if my throat had dried up. N-No! This wasn’t the feeling that I wanted to give off!
“Wrong. I came here for a different reason. But now that I’ve heard your intentions, maybe I should do that. Like hell I’m going to let a creep like you get anywhere near Kizuna-chan.”
Boldly and without an ounce of hesitation, she shot that fiery challenge at me. I couldn’t say that she had a good personality, but I had to admire her guts here.
“Hmph. Fine, I accept your challenge. I’ll show you that you don’t stand a chance against my feelings for Adachi-san!”
That’s right. I wasn’t going to give into pressure from this flashy girl! Judging from how she was received by my other classmates, it looked like no one had caught onto Yubiwa Mui’s true character. Well, I wasn’t going to be fooled! Even if it was still uncertain whether or not Adachi-san returned my feelings, I was a man first and foremost! At the very least, I had to do all I could to protect Adachi-san’s purity from this troublesome girl—
“Ah, sorry. I wasn’t listening. I was sending Kizuna-chan a recording of our whole conversation.”
Yubiwa shook her phone at me while uttering that strange, strange sentence.
Eh? A recording? Is that what she said?
So that meant…right now, Adachi-san would be receiving a text containing a voice clip of our discussion…
Everything that had been said from the beginning would be revealed…
“Adachi-san will know about my feelings!?”
“That’s what you’re worried about!?”
“S-Stop!!! Don’t send that message!”
“It’s already been sent!”
Yubiwa neatly dodged as I lunged over the desks to try and grab her phone. We ran in circles around the two desks that we had pushed together and found ourselves at a standoff. If I moved one way, she would move the other. What an infuriating girl! How did she come up with such a clever tactic?
“Give me your phone. I’ll resolve this misunderstanding.”
I growled at her, my hand extended out to receive the phone.
“No way. You want to look inside a girl’s phone? Such a creep…”
“T-That’s not it! I’d drop dead before I’d want to read the contents of your phone!”
“Huh!? What are you saying? That something’s wrong with my phone?”
“The phone is innocent! It’s the owner that’s the problem here!”
“You’re saying you have a problem with me? Meaning, you see me in a bad light, right?”
“That’s a given! Why would I bother seeing any good inside of you when I have Adachi-san!”
“Kh…you really know how to piss off a girl.”
Flames were erupting between us. The two desks were becoming a blazing battleground!
“So…you won’t listen to reason?”
“If you try and fondle me, I’m going to scream.”
“Why would your mind jump to that already!?”
My fists clenched on top of the desk. Was this it? Were my feelings for Adachi-san going to be revealed this callously? Was there nothing I could do? This girl…this evil girl…was going to ruin my first love like this?
I bit my lip. I could feel stinging in my eyes.
“Don’t you have any sympathy…?”
“I’ve tried so hard…to get my feelings across the right way. I put so much effort into getting to this point…”
“All you did was intrude on her personal space…”
“Damn it…as I thought, I really can’t get along with someone like you! You don’t understand these feelings of mine at all, do you!? That’s right…you’re just one of those girls that go through men like paper towels! It must be nice, being able to handle people’s feelings so carelessly!”
Yubiwa’s eye twitched, as if she had been stung.
“What did you say…?”
“Playing around with someone’s sincere feelings…you’re the worst! It’s because of people like you that we have global warming! You fill the world with CO2 from the sighs of your victims!”
“I also…! I also…have sincere feelings…”
The strong rejection trailed away and Yubiwa’s eyes turned away from mine. Huh? Wait a minute. This wasn’t the reaction I was expecting. What are you acting like a shy maiden for!?
“What are you acting like a shy maiden for!?”
“You already said that!”
“You read my mind!?”
“Anyways! Don’t get carried away, you creep! I know exactly what sincere feelings are and you don’t have them!”
“You know what sincere feelings are!? You!? A girl that doesn’t even keep her desk clean!?”
“What does that have to do with anything!?”
I lunged over the table again. But this time, it was to face Yubiwa Mui head-on. Our eyes locked once more, like swords colliding!
“I don’t believe you. I can’t accept that someone who’d do what you just did could possibly hold feelings like mine.”
An even sharper glare. My spirit felt quelled by that piercing pressure.
But not enough.
It wasn’t nearly enough.
“If you really do have feelings like that, then they’re fake! Someone like you has never felt true love for anyone!”
I shouted to this girl that I had just met. I shouted with utter confidence in this statement. Because it had to be true. It could only be true. The things that Yubiwa and I were talking about were completely different!
That’s right. Lies like that can’t be love.
What I have is different.
Suddenly, I was flung back. Suddenly, the desks were no longer underneath me. Rather, it was the ceiling zooming past over me. A pulsating pain was blooming from my nose.
A furious punch. Yubiwa Mui’s fist had hit me with such force that she flew over the desks.
“Gwaah! Nosebleed…I think I have a…no, I don’t…it’s not bleeding.”
“Who do you think you are? Saying whatever the hell you want without any evidence!”
The fluttering fabric of her pleated skirt. Yubiwa Mui stood over me, a cold, ruthless aura in her eyes.
“Even I have feelings like that for someone! Even I want to talk casually with him in-between class periods! Even I want to take his blazer home, wash it, iron all the wrinkles out, and then wear it to pretend that it’s like he’s hugging me. Even I want to study together in the library sometimes!”
“Hey, there’s something abnormal in your list there!”
Yubiwa’s hand jerked up. Her fingers tightly clenched the cellphone that had caused this situation. Her expression tightened and she swung down with all her force—!
“Even though I have feelings just like yours, we’re different! We’re nothing alike! So…So—!”
It was going to hit me! I reeled back, arms moving to shield my head—
“…Let’s make a deal.”
I cautiously opened my eyes. Yubiwa was offering her phone to me. With her eyes still turned away and a faint, rosy tint on her cheeks—
“I need you to give me some love advice.”
Perhaps it was the adrenaline still pumping through my body. Maybe it was something like a localized Stockholm syndrome.
Whatever the reason—
I couldn’t help but think, for just a moment, that this girl was kind of cute.
The daylight had started to ebb. It was around the time when most people had already finished their club activities and were starting to leave the school. However, my conversation with Yubiwa Mui wasn’t over yet. The desks had been straightened and another box of fruit milk had been bought.
And for some reason, Yubiwa was glaring at my fruit milk distastefully.
“What is it? Do you want some?”
What is with that aggressive rejection!?
“Anyways…you know who I’m talking about, right?”
Yubiwa continued, shifting a little in her chair. What is going on here? Suddenly, she is acting so feminine…
“Yoneda…you mean Yoneda in our class?”
As I had thought…There was only one person that I knew with that name. Which meant that the only possibility was that person.
Yoneda, huh…? So Yoneda is the kind that Yubiwa likes…
That kind of guy…
I see…It can’t be anyone else, huh? In fact, he might be the only Yoneda in the school…
“WHY THAT GUY!?”
I shouted at the top of my lungs, palms slamming as I rose up again over the desk.
“E-Eh!? What do you mean?”
Yubiwa looked at me in a timid, bewildered way that totally didn’t fit her character.
“What’s with that taste!? You…You’re not joking? You’re for real!? You like that Yoneda!?”
“I-Idiot! Stop saying it so loudly!”
I couldn’t contain it. It was illogical. It was out of this world.
What!? Why!? Where!? There was no how because it was impossible! There was no when because it’d never happen! Yoneda? YONEDA!?
“You can’t be serious…what do you see in that guy!?”
“S-See in him…you’re asking me so suddenly…”
Yubiwa blushed and held her hands up to her face. Who was this girl!? Where did she come from!?
“No, no, no. This can’t be right. Let me confirm again. We are talking about Yoneda in our class. Yoneda Dogashi, the person that sits next to me.”
“So you mean the gloomy guy that has greasy hair that covers his eyes and is always mumbling to himself?”
“That always has food stains on his clothes, that smells like he never bathes, that never looks people in the eye, the guy that’s already become famous as the most disgusting, wimpiest, bad-mannered slimeball!?”
Yubiwa’s face had completely steamed up in admiration.
“THAT’S THE WRONG REACTION, ISN’T IT!?”
“I wasn’t sure about you…especially since you’re stalking Kizuna-chan…but I guess you’re not a bad guy after all! As expected of his neighbor, you really get it, don’t you!”
“No, I don’t! I don’t get it! Please, for the love of god, I hope I don’t get it!!”
“Jeez…don’t tease me so much~”
GYAAAAHHH! My fingers were clawing at my scalp. Stop it! STOP IT! Stop acting like this is your run-of-the-mill first love! Even a demon like you doesn’t deserve this sad cupid nightmare!
“Say…you didn’t piss off a member of the Occult club or something, did you?”
“Huh? What are you talking about? This school doesn’t have an Occult club.”
“!!! Jeez! Don’t say his name so much…”
Yubiwa blushed again and looked down at her lap. I felt blood draining out of my mouth. What the hell was this? My mind couldn’t process it.
It wasn’t that I was taking a high-and-mighty approach to this. Ok, I’ll be honest. Perhaps if you looked at Yoneda Dogashi objectively, you could find some good points about him.