ords had been directed at Koutarou, but it was Shuuji who answered, and Koutarou looked at him, curious.
“Alright, later then.”
In the end, Nagasaki strode off without ever explaining why he’d even been there in the first place.
His appointments should all have been over, but he didn’t seem to have finished working.
“What were you talking about?” Koutarou asked, as they both watched Nagasaki’s retreating form.
“About how you’ve been so popular lately,” Shuuji said, and summarized what he’d heard from Nagasaki.
“Oh I see,” Koutarou said, just to keep the conversation going, like it was someone else’s affair entirely.
It had just occurred a few scant moments ago, but he acted like he didn’t have any interest in it at all.
“Well, it’s not just with those girls, I’ve always been popular, you know.”
“When was that?”
Shuuji asked, surprised that there were things even he didn’t know about Koutarou.
Once Koutarou relaxed, it wouldn’t be weird for him to be popular, but Shuuji had never once heard any such thing from Koutarou himself.
“After I met you, Shuuji, right through till today,” Koutarou answered, grinning.
“I’ve always been popular with you, Shuuji.”
Koutarou’s smile brought one out on Shuuji’s face, too.
As far as Koutarou was concerned, Shuuji was the only partner whose attention he wanted to attract, and because Shuuji felt the same about him, the result was, he’d become popular.
“I’m fine with whatever, but aren’t we going to be late for the movie if we don’t get going?” Koutarou said, feeling happy just to chat with Shuuji, but still prompting him, as his legs weren’t moving at all.
“Oh yeah.
We still have a little time, but we can’t stand around here just chatting, huh.”
When Shuuji walked off, Koutarou started walking too, staying beside him.
They’d have to take the bus to get from the hospital to the movie theater, so they talked it over as they walked, and decided to head to the bus stop.

“If I was popular, would that bother you, Shuuji?”
When they reached the empty bus stop, Koutarou asked his question like he’d just remembered it.
“Not really bothered exactly…”
“But didn’t you tell Mr Nagasaki earlier to refuse them?”
Koutarou had overheard the conversation without really knowing what it was about, but he could still point out inconsistencies.
“I’m not bothered, I’m not even worried really, I’m just a little jealous.”
It was embarrassing to admit to his own honest feelings, and he ended up speaking quickly.
But Koutarou never thought anything was embarrassing, and didn’t notice.
“You’re jealous, Shuuji?”
“Is that weird?”
You don’t need to be.”
The words that came in reply from Koutarou made a smile slip from Shuuji’s mouth.
It was exactly something he thought Koutarou would say.
“I was reborn and I still fell in love with you, Shuuji.
In other words, I like you on a cellular level.
Liking anyone but Shuuji isn’t really something possible for this body, right?”
So many years had passed since they started going out, but Koutarou confessed such a passionate love even now.
He was constantly telling him that worry and jealousy were pointless.
“In that case, me too.”
Shuuji was looking away, but he put his feelings for Koutarou into words.
Koutarou knew it already, but he had to say it anyway.
“No matter how cool you get, even if you’re uncool, I think I’ll always love you like this, Koutarou.”
Shuuji conveyed his feelings carefully, choosing his words.
It wasn’t just that they’d decided not to hide things from each other, he wanted to make Koutarou feel the same happiness he did.
A smile that couldn’t be any happier spread on Koutarou’s face.
That alone brought so much joy to Shuuji, that he almost started crying.
“It’s okay even if I get old?” Koutarou asked, just confirming it, still smiling.
“I’ll get old, too, so we’ll be doing it together, right?”

“You won’t change, even if you do get old, Shuuji.
You’ll still be the Shuuji I love.
I guarantee it,” Koutarou declared, full of self-confidence.
“How do you know that?”
“Because I’ll always love you, that’s how.”
Koutarou’s feelings never changed, even when the actual eyeballs that were looking at him had, so it followed that Shuuji would always be the one he liked.
If someone else had talked about eternal love or whatever, it would stink of lies, but only Koutarou made it sound like the truth.
Shuuji wanted to go somewhere right now where no one could see them, hold Koutarou tight, and be held tight.
Stolen over by a storm of emotions, Shuuji stared hard at Koutarou, trying to convey those feelings.
The bus stopped in front of them.
It was the bus headed to the movie theater.
But Koutarou nodded at Shuuji as he stared at him, and took Shuuji’s arm and walked away.
It was a taxi stand that would get them to their destination, not a bus stop.
Koutarou selected the fastest way to get them home, to the apartment where the two of them lived together.
It gave Shuuji a sense of his irresistible love, and made him feel how reliable those broad shoulders were.

– – –


Good afternoon, pleased to meet you.
I’m Ioka Itsuki.
Thank you indeed for picking up “Scholar of the Sleeping Forest” this time.

This story is one I’ve wanted to write for quite a long time now.
Years passed and I just wasn’t blessed with the right opportunity… I’m filled with so much emotion to be able to finally write it like this.
I tried to change the uke character a little, from when the first section was published in a magazine.
As a result, I feel like the relationship between the two of them has become easier to convey.
I’m wondering if people who’ve already read the magazine version will read this with fresh feelings, as those who never read the magazine version of course will.

To Koyamada Ami who drew the illustrations, thank you so much for these two wonderful people.
This confident looking man who’s actually a delicate uke is so in line with how I’d imagined him that I was quite moved.
To the editor who graciously began working with me starting with this book, you have been a huge help.
Thanks to your accurate advice, I was able to cleanly untangle my mess of a head.

And so, in the end, once more, to those who have been so kind as to pick up this book, please accept my greatest thanks, I am grateful.
2017 January Ioka Itsuki

点击屏幕以使用高级工具 提示:您可以使用左右键盘键在章节之间浏览。

You'll Also Like