Chapter 8: My childhood friends are very important to me.

“…… Phew, I’m done, President.”

“Good work, Shu-kun.
I’m just about done too.”

I handed the documents I was working on to the president, Iori-san, and took a breath.
Normally, I would be going home with Ayana and Towa, the three of us together after school, but I stayed at school because Iori-san had asked me for some help.

I had some doubts about why it was me specifically who was asked instead of someone else, but I think it’s mainly because we have been getting along for quite some time.
I looked away from the president who was doing some cleanup, picked up my smartphone, and opened an app to find a message from Ayana.

[I’m going home with Towa-kun first.
Good luck with your work, Shu-kun.]

She didn’t have to go out of her way to send this kind of message, but her kindness overflowed and I couldn’t help but feel happy.

I wasn’t worried about her being alone with Towa.
Although Towa has been friends with Ayana longer than I have, to me, they seem like good friends and nothing more.
Besides, although it was a long time ago, Towa said he would support me and Ayana.

“What are you grinning about while looking at your smartphone? Are you okay?”

“Uwa?! N-no, it’s nothing.”


I hurriedly tried to cover up my actions, sensing Iori-san’s uninterested gaze.
She suddenly closed in on me, bringing her face close enough for a kiss.
I was taken aback by the distance, but then she chuckled with amusement.

“By the looks of it, I still have a chance, don’t I? Hey, Shu-kun.”

Her playful attitude had a hint of seduction, making my heart race.
Iori-san is a woman who can show such close distance to me with a mischievous air of sexiness, but she never shows this attitude to any other male students except me.
She won’t tell me what she likes about me, but she almost told me once.

[If you go out with me, I might tell you, okay?]

 I was aware that the words were a joke, so I lightly replied that that would be fine.
No matter how modest Iori-san may be, she is a beautiful woman.

 She is a celebrity who is not even remotely comparable to someone like me.
I’m sure Towa will tell me not to be so down on myself when I say this, but even though I’m better than I used to be, I can’t easily get rid of this mean personality.

Or rather, I like Ayana.
I might be swept away by Iori-san’s advances, but Ayana is still my number one.

Let’s go home soon, Iori-san.”

“Oh, I see through your evasion.”

“I’m going ahead.”

“Fufu, don’t leave me behind.”

I didn’t want to be teased anymore, so I quickly left the student council room.
I was soon joined by Iori-san, who ran up to walk beside me, and we walked together, chatting, and exited through the school gate.

We walked together until partway through the journey home, but then a familiar voice shook my eardrums.

“Senpai! Shu-senpai!!”

cheerful voice resounds and a girl runs towards me as I turn my gaze towards her.

“Are you all going home now? If so, can I join you?”

The girl who spoke was Mari Uchida, a junior of mine.
Unlike the mature and beautiful Iori-san, Mari was boyish and slender… rather cute than beautiful, perhaps.

“That’s fine with me.
What about you, Shu-kun?”

“Of course.
Shall we go home together, Mari?”


Mari energetically replied and positioned herself between me and Iori-san, getting closer to me.
Seeing that, Iori-san also seemed to show her competitiveness by closing the distance between us.
Although Towa would be able to stay calm in this situation, I, on the other hand, couldn’t.
Besides, if someone else saw us like this, I didn’t know what they would say.

“Uchida-san, aren’t you a little too close?”

“How about you, President, move a little further away?”

Please don’t argue while sandwiching me.
Seeing my troubled face, they stopped arguing as if they had called a temporary truce.

Come to think of it, if Ayana saw us like this and misunderstood, it would be troublesome, but fortunately, she should have already gone home.

After walking for a while again, Iori-san suddenly spoke up.

“By the way, what kind of relationship do you have with Shu-kun, Uchida-san?”

It seemed to be a simple question from Iori.
Mari answered it.

“I often run around town on weekends and holidays, and that’s when I met Otonashi-senpai.
I had been devoted to club activities for a long time, so I enjoyed talking with Otonashi-senpai, and she introduced me to Shu-senpai.”

One day on a holiday, I was summoned by Ayana, and the person I went to was Mari.
I was nervous because I had never met her before, but I was able to talk with her because Ayana was there with me.

 I have been going out with Mari on her runs more and more since then.
I enjoy talking with Mari because we get along well, and we even often meet without Ayana these days.

“Oh, I see… But it’s a coincidence.
Come to think of it, wasn’t it also thanks to Otonashi-san that you and I met, Shu-kun?”


“….Aah, now that you mention it, yes, you are right.”

During discussions in class, Ayana often took the lead and rallied everyone together.
It was through this that I met Iori-san, the class president, when Ayana asked me to accompany her to report the class’s decision to her.

Iori-san had a reputation for being cold to others, but with Ayuna, who was skilled at interacting with people, the conversation flowed smoothly.
Thanks to that moment of goodwill, I also became involved with Iori-san.

“Isn’t Ayuna like a cupid?”

Well, Shu-kun himself doesn’t seem to be aware of our feelings yet.”

“…It’s going to be tough, huh?”


Why are you both looking at me like that?

They sighed heavily when they saw my troubled face.

“This one is not good”

“This one is no good indeed”

“Did I do something wrong?!”

I couldn’t help but interject.

As I expressed my dissatisfaction with their reactions, both of them smiled softly and apologized.
…Well, I can’t say I don’t like spending my daily life with them.
Rather, I can say that I like it.
They look at me properly, just like Ayuna.

“…But still, Otonashi-san is a tough opponent.”

“Yes, indeed.
Childhood friends are tough!”

Why did Ayana’s name suddenly come up?

However… childhood friends, huh.
I am really grateful that I became childhood friends with Ayana.
I really like her, who was my beloved childhood friend whom I spent time with since we were young, always smiling and interacting with me.

To me, the existence of a childhood friend is… yeah.

The most important existence.

Yes, that fits well.

[I have fun being with Ayana-chan!]

[I see.
Me too.]

Ayana’s smile when she said that, a treasure that will forever remain in my heart.
That’s why I hope someday my feelings will be conveyed to her.

I might be laughed at if I say this, but Ayana and I are in a relationship recognized by our parents.
Ayana never made a displeased face and always stayed by my side… I am confident that my feelings will be conveyed.
I am sure it will be okay.

“Otonashi-senpai is amazing, but Yukishiro-senpai is also amazing, right? He was really good at soccer in junior high, right?”


“Is that so?”

Unlike Iori-san, who asked as if she was interested, my heart was as if a shadow had fallen on it.
Towa is certainly my best friend.
However, soccer-related topics about Towa are like taboo to me.

“In middle school, it was quite a buzz even though we went to different schools.
But I heard that he quit soccer after getting injured in an accident.
Do you know anything about it, Shu-senpai?”


I couldn’t answer immediately to Mari’s question.

Because that incident… no, it’s already in the past.
And Towa forgave me too.

[Well, that’s just how things go sometimes.
Don’t worry about it.
More importantly, I’m glad you’re okay,]

…See, Towa in my memory said that.
So it’s already over.

“I don’t know the details.
It was probably something that Towa regrets, so maybe it’s better not to pry too much”

Am I speaking normally? I’m sure it’s fine.
I’ll say it again, it’s already in the past.

“Yeah, maybe you’re right.
Anyway, I have to do my best too!”

“Good luck, Mari-chan.
We may be rivals, but I’ll be cheering for you”

With the topic of Towa finished, I felt relieved from the bottom of my heart.

We continued our conversation while walking home, pretending to be calm.
Towa is my best friend…yes, my best friend.

 My best friend who can do anything.

He was good at studying, sports, and had many friends… He was close to Ayana, too.

I was envious of him, who was different from me… When I saw him being told in the hospital that he couldn’t participate in the tournament anymore, I…

I laughed at him… as if to say, “serves you right”.

At that moment, I felt someone’s gaze on me, and it felt very scary, but since there was no one around, I didn’t pay much attention to it.
Perhaps… someone saw my sneering face.

 I laughed …… at him, as if to say, serves you right.

 I felt someone’s eyes on me at that moment, it was very scary but I didn’t care because no one was there.
Maybe …… someone saw my sneer?

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