s a softball, but that’s okay.”

Hahaha, Sugiuchi laughs.

“If I say I don’t like it, will ya stop?”

“No.”

“I knew it.
─Let’s go.
We’ll get in the way of club activities.”

The moment I saw what he brought, I thought we could play catch.
When I looked inside again, Hinagata noticed me and gave a small wave from the side of her waist.

I responded by raising my hand just to bail.

As my steps weakened, I was pushed backwards.

“Adolescence!! Let’s go already!”

“Don’t lose your temper so suddenly.”

“You’re the one who’s interfering with the club activities the most!”

We didn’t have a specific place in mind.
After seeing what was going on from outside, we decided to use a corner of the ground, so we changed our shoes and walked to a place where we wouldn’t disturb them.

After putting down my bag and taking off my jacket.
I put my hands on a dead leaf-colored, dusty-smelling glove that I couldn’t even tell what the original color was.

Sugiuchi had played baseball in elementary school and junior high school, but quit altogether when he entered high school.

The softball went back and forth between Sugiuchi and me, who were a little apart.

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We never threw the ball out of bounds, and we never missed catching the ball.

“You’re surprisingly good at throwing.”

“I am.”

“Does it hurt? Shoulder? Or elbow?”

“Shoulder.
It’s only light at this distance, so I’m okay with this.”

Even after listening to the whole argument, Sugiuchi just reacted with a  fuun, as if he didn’t care.

“Oh, wait a minute.
Didn’t you win the school inter-class ball-game competition​ this year…?”

After I remembered that, my heart suddenly started to throb.

Last year’s ball games were soccer, baseball, basketball, and volleyball, and if it’s the same as last year, those who are in those clubs will have to participate in another ball game.

“With you and me together, I don’t think we can lose…!”

“Are you into some kind of shonen manga lately?”

“Ehh, How did you know? Are you a detective?”

Don’t look so shocked.
You’re so easy to read.

“You don’t have to quit the club… do you? Even if you can’t pitch, hitting is probably not a problem.
When I first heard about it, I wondered why.”

“Sugiuchi, you’re throwing a boomerang.”

“I’m making my high school life debut, you know.
I’m going to quit being a baseball boy and live a high spirited high school life.”

“You thought that was your debut?”

“Shut up.
It’s because I care about you.”

Kusukusu, Oi don’t laugh! and he threw  a fastball at me.

When I caught it, it made a nice cracking sound.

“…Sugiuchi, maybe you were waiting for someone?”

“Huh? What? I don’t know what you mean.”

Don’t be upset in an easy-to-understand manner, this guy.

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“Tell me.
I’m not going to tell anyone about it.
There’s no such thing as too late or too early in love, right?”

I threw the ball fluently, and Sugiuchi caught it with a snap.
The left-hander, who used to have a mid-130 kilometer pitching speed, was now doing the best he could.

Sugiuchi turned the ball in his hand, looking at the stitching, and said softly—

“What do you think of U….
Uchi—.”

“Uchinokura-san?”

Instead of a reply, a ball came towards me.

“It’s not like that! Just a little bit, Just a little bit.”

You’re not saying anything concrete.

“It’s okay.”

“I-is that so?”

So you are waiting for Women’s Basketball.

What, aren’t you and me the same.

“You’re waiting for Hinagata-san anyway.”

“What do you mean, ‘anyway’? It’s just that we’re going back in the same direction.
Do you want me to ask Hinagata about Uchinokura-san? I won’t mention your name.” 

Well even if I don’t, she’ll know.

“Well, I’ll tell her if she asks.”

“You aren’t honest.”

“Shut up!”

Perhaps due to his exertions, Sugiuchi threw the ball out of bounds, and it rolled towards the track and field club where they were practicing.

A member of the track team noticed it and threw it back to him.
Don’t forget to say, “Thank you!” and “I’m sorry”.

I asked Sugiuchi what was bothering him.

“Did you have anything to do with Uchinokura-san when you were in middle school?”

Me, Hinagata, Sugiuchi, and Uchinokura-san are all from the same middle school.

“I don’t know.
That’s why I think that people fall in love with people when… they fall in love with them.
The length of the relationship probably has nothing to do with it.”

Maybe it was because he didn’t say it in a mocking way, but I found his mumbled words a bit convincing.

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