The next day.
I went to school alone.
Considering what I did yesterday, I don’t have a face to meet with Touya, and I think it would be awkward if I met with Ruri.
This was the first time since I entered middle school, and even elementary school, that I went to school alone.
I usually have someone to talk to, but being alone was pretty sad.
With this thought in mind, I arrived at school and headed for my classroom.
When I entered the classroom, Takanashi suddenly mumbled my name and looked at me.
No, it wasn’t just Takanashi.
For some reason, all of my classmates were looking in my direction.
Moreover, I felt that most of them were glaring at me a little.
“What? It’s not ‘what’.
Don’t play dumb with me.”
Takanashi looked at me sharply and said angrily.
This atmosphere was not a joke or a surprise…
“But what do you mean, don’t play dumb?”
What are you talking about? I don’t know what you mean.
I didn’t think Kenji was that much of a scum.”
Takanashi put his hand on his forehead in disgust.
What in the world?
While I was completely unaware of the situation, a student emerged from a group of my classmates.
“Good morning, Kinu.”
The moment I saw my best friend’s face, my heart throbbed.
“I went all the way to Kinu’s house with Ruri, so why didn’t you go to school with us?”
I was feeling a little sick…”
“Hmm, I see.”
It was a conversation without much substance.
And yet, Touya was showing his usual fresh smile.
…Something was scary.
I have a question for you…”
“I-Is that so? What is it that you want to ask me?”
When I asked him back, Touya kept his smile the whole time—
“Did you confess to Ruri yesterday?”
A moment later, I felt a chill run down my spine.
If Ruri had told Touya about it…!?
I looked around the classroom and saw Ruri among my classmates.
—I was surprised to find that she turned her face away from me as soon as our eyes met.
There is no way that Ruri would really do such a thing… not when she has been with me for a long time and has been kind to me at all times.
There must be some mistake.
“Kinu, did you hear me? Did you really confess to Ruri?”
I was lost for an answer.
I think it was better to tell the truth.
The only thing was, it was not good in this place with all the classmates gathered.
“Kinu, we are best friends.
Tell me the truth.”
Touya said in a reassuringly gentle tone of voice.
I thought that maybe he would forgive me if I told him the truth.
I bowed my head deeply.
“I was sorry, but the truth is that I liked Ruri too! That’s why I couldn’t hold back my feelings!”
I honestly admitted that I had confessed my feelings.
Then, with a smile on his face, he nodded in sympathy.
You couldn’t suppress your feelings.”
And when Touya asked me for advice about Ruri, I wasn’t really sure if I should help you.”
So Kinu has been through a lot…”
Touya returned the words in a sympathetic tone.
I knew that Touya would be fine.
If I talked to him properly, he would understand.
I was relieved to see that.
That was when it happened—
“Kinu is the worst.”
A low, sharp voice that I had never heard in the nearly four years we had been together.
As soon as I heard it, my heart froze.
“Did you think I would say, ‘Well, I can’t help it, then I forgive you’?”
Touya glared at me as much as, if not more than, my classmates from earlier.
I’ve never seen such a scary expression on his face before.
“I’ve told you that I like Ruri.
But then you confess, I guess you didn’t think of me as your best friend.”
“No way! I’ve always thought of you as my best friend—”
“Then why did you confess!?”
Touya shouted angrily.
My classmates around me were astonished at the sight and I was speechless.
“…Phew, I’m sorry.
I just got a little bit mad.”
His expression returned to cool again, but I could sense that he was clearly angry.
That was all I did to him—
“I’m in a relationship with Ruri, as you may have heard from her when you confessed your feelings to her.
So I’ll never be able to fulfill Kinu’s wishes again.”
“…Yeah, I know that.”
“I see… Then don’t ever mess with Ruri again.”
Despite his fresh voice, Touya warned me.
I have no right to continue hanging out with Ruri.
“I’m glad you’re so understanding.
Ah, but I’ve got one last thing I need to say.”
As if remembering, Touya clapped his hands and…
“Kinu, we’re done.”
He continued in an indifferent tone of voice.
“W-What…!? Don’t say that.”
“I can’t do it.
I don’t trust Kinu anymore.
You’re not even my friend anymore.”
Touya was right.
There was no room to argue with him at all.
“So that’s what I’m going to say.
Don’t get involved with me or Ruri.”
“Ruri too… wait a minute.
Can’t I talk to Ruri too?”
“…What are you talking about? I told you earlier not to mess with her.”
“What…I thought you meant not to show off in front of her…”
At my words, Touya sighed in exasperation.
“Kinu, don’t disappoint me any more.
You deserve it after what you did.”
“Don’t ever talk to Ruri.”
Touya’s words came out in a stronger tone.
I couldn’t say anything under that pressure.
“Hey, Touya, can I say something to this guy too?”
Takanashi, who had been silent while Touya was talking, asked.
Touya shook his head.
Takanashi took a drink as if he was preparing to drink, and then slowly approached me.
“Kenji, I know I’ve said a lot of things to you, but I trusted you in some ways.”
When I looked at him, Takanashi looked a little sad.
It seemed what he said was true.
I had no idea that Takanashi felt that way about me.
“…but apparently I was wrong.”
A moment later, I was soaked from head to toe.
When I looked up in surprise, I saw that Takanashi had dumped a plastic drink bottle he was holding over my head.
After getting even my uniform wet, the contents of the bottle seemed to be juice, and I ended up sticky all over.
Takanashi dismissed the idea and headed back in the direction of his classmates.
He admired Touya as much as I do.
I was sure that was why he couldn’t forgive me for what I did.
Still, I never thought he would go this far…
The drink seemed to have been chilled to a crisp, and even though it was May, it was indeed cold to be exposed to such things.
“Seriously, that’s scummy.”
One of the boys from my classmates said.
Then, as if in a chain reaction, other classmates began to say the same things.
“You scum,” “It’s so terrible that you made a move on someone Touya likes,” “Don’t come to school anymore,” “You’re so gross,” “It’s not normal,” “Who do you think you are, Kinu?” “You betrayed him, confessed your feelings, and got rejected.”
They and the girls looked at me with disdain and piled on the invective one after the other.
I had never seen anything like this before, and to be honest, I couldn’t stand this atmosphere.
I have certainly done terrible things to Touya, to my best friend.
I couldn’t help what he did to me.
…but my fellow teammates poured drinks on me, and my classmates abused me countless times…did I really have to go through all of this?
Perhaps, as expected, Touya might think this was too much.
No, it was that Touya, it must be so.
“Everyone, you can be harsher than that.”
Just as I was about to ask for help, Touya urged his classmates.
He was laughing at that moment.
As if he was amused by the fact that I was going to be hurt even more.
I wondered if I hurt him that much too.
…Speaking of which, I wonder what happened to Ruri.
She might be able to do something to stop my classmates.
With this in mind, I tried desperately to find her, but there was no sign of Ruri, who should have been there a moment ago.
It seemed that she had left the classroom before I knew it.
“Aah, I kinda feel like pouring a drink on him, too.”
One of the boys said, and just like Takanashi earlier, he came up to me with a plastic bottle and poured it over my head.
This time, the bottle was new, not drunk, so even my school uniform pants were wet.
The classmates were laughing at the sight of me.
…What bullsh*t this is.
From that day on, I began to be bullied by all my classmates, especially by Touya.
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