Chapter 21: One Step away from being Too Late

Volume 3: Someone with extreme bad luck with women

“–! –!” (???)

I hear somebody’s voice.
I didn’t pay attention to it, but was instead engulfed by the scene in front of me.
A spectacular view that stretched far into the distance.
The sky and earth absorbed me completely.
Just one more step… Just one more step, and I could be a part of that same scenario.
I instinctively pulled closer.

I was going to disappear for good anyways.
I had nowhere I truly belonged.
It didn’t matter if I did it now.
I was worthless and unnecessary, so why don’t I just give in to this urge? No one will be troubled by it, nor will anyone feel sad by it.
Why am I so attracted to this act? I can never stop thinking about it…

And that’s why, I’m—

The rain cooled my head.
I stared blankly at the puddles that had formed on the black asphalt.
When I returned from Suzurikawa’s house, the sun had already set and it was already dark.
I continued to walk along the road at night, wandering alone.

Suzurikawa’s body was warm.
However, we weren’t embracing each other in a hug.
It was just me and Suzurikawa together.
Suzurikawa wanted to prove to me that nothing had happened between her and her senpai.
But I couldn’t accept that feeling right now.
I couldn’t return her feelings with the same intensity… So I didn’t do anything, and we instead held each other’s hands and talked.
As if to make up for the time we had spent apart.
That’s the distance between me and Suzurikawa now.

I repeated the same question to myself.
“Is this okay? And when did I become like this?” The same doubts I felt at Suzurikawa’s house still swirled inside me.
The one-out runner from first base that’s hesitating because of the possibility of losing.
That’s me, Yukito Kokonoe… That’s right.
That’s exactly it.
Since when did Yukito Kokonoe become like this? I begin questioning my own thoughts.
I have a strange feeling that I am biased, deflected, or distorted in some shape or form..

Why didn’t I notice it? Why didn’t I question it? It was very strange.
A strange unevenness of thought.
My mentality is as strong as super-aramid fiber, but I can’t remember exactly when I softened this much, or how I turned out like this.

I’m… no.
Who is Yukito Kokonoe?

“Hah…” (Yuki)

I sighed heavily in front of my sister’s room.
I’m not going to be able to move forward if I don’t get an answer to that question.
I’ll keep breaking down and I’ll just stop moving forward.
But… I was okay with that.
I didn’t think anything of it, and I didn’t care.

But I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I kept going, someone else would get sad because of me.
I don’t give a thing about how much it hurts me, but I don’t want to hurt anyone else.
And maybe that same exact thought has been hurting people.

I knock on the door.
it’s around 10:00 PM, but I’m sure she’s still awake.
“What’s the point?”, I mock myself.
She hates me anyway, so there’s no reason to fear her hating me any more than she already does.
Yeah, I don’t care… I have to find out who I am.
The real me.
The real Yukito Kokonoe that I’ve lost sight of.

In order to do that, I’ll need to take a different approach.
It’s the opposite of what I’ve been doing so far, and the answer may lie in something I’ve been avoiding.
So I have to move on.
No matter how much it hurts me, I’ll do it.
I’m used to getting hurt.
But I don’t want to make anyone cry because of me anymore.

“What are you doing here at this hour?” (Yuri)

My sister comes out in her pajamas.
It doesn’t look like she’s sleepy at all.
I wonder if she’s been studying.
I’m sure she is happy for being so talented, unlike someone as ungifted as me..
I’m not sure why there is such a gap between sisters and brothers, but it’s an amazing gap.
But I guess my sister is like my mother.
She has a threatening chest circumference.
Hee hee.

“I need to talk to you for a minute, if that’s okay, Nee-san?” (Yuki)

“You came to talk to me? That’s very unusual… Come in.” (Yuri)

My sister lets me in.
I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve entered her room.
It must have been more than a decade.
We’ve had this relationship ever since that day: we don’t interfere with each other, we don’t look at each other, and I have avoided her.
But did she do the same? I thought back, and why did you do… what you did? I thought you didn’t like me.
I forced myself to stop thinking, and tried to come up with a wrong answer.
Suddenly, my sister’s movements came to a halt.

“—What? Wait a minute… What did you just say?” (Yuri)

“Nee-san? Oh, I just need to talk to you.” (Yuki)

“Yukito…? Yukito! Yukito—!” (Yuri)

She hugged me so hard I heard a crack.
What the hell is going on today? I’ve been hugged a lot this day.
Is this a “hug people” day or something? If my rationale wasn’t unsinkable, like the Battleship Yamato, I’d be in a lot of trouble.
No, it’s already sunk isn’t it? As usual, my joke of a thought accelerates.
Still, let’s move forward.
We can’t just stop here!

“Seriously, it’s a disaster.” (Yuki)

Yesterday was really a disaster.
After that, I ended up going to bed with my sister, who was hugging me because she was so emotional.
My mother and sister were way too protective.
In fact, I am the problem.
I could never say I’ve slept in the same bed as my sister, as she hugged me! Not even if I wanted to!

No, wait, isn’t that very strange? Haven’t I been saying these things without a care in the world, as if they were facts? Why couldn’t I say something like that even if I wanted to? Oh well, it’s not like I’ve ever thought about these things before…

Well, okay.
It’s silly to worry about it so soon after arriving at school.
I have a lot to do today, after all.
I have to make a move to find out who I really am.
I have to do something different.
I have to be a different version of myself.

“What’s the matter, Yukito, you look different…” (Miho)

That refreshing handsome man was still refreshing today.
It’s been raining for more than a day, but his face, in contrast, is bright as usual.
He had no sense of season at all.
Don’t you get tired when it’s sunny all the time? Doesn’t it ever get cloudy? But I’m not a meteorologist, so I didn’t have time to worry about any of that.
Especially today.

“Kouki Miho, I’m going to join the basketball team.” (Yuki)

“… What? Really?! What kind of change of heart is that?” (Miho)

“For now, it’s up to the tournament that the hot-blooded senpai was talking about.
Whether we continue from there or not depends on the results.” (Yuki)

“I understand.
Then I’ll join the club too!” (Miho)

“Gross! Don’t try to follow me… Do you like me?” (Yuki)

“Of course I do.” (Miho)

“Is that so?” (Yuki)

For some reason, the classroom was filled with tension, and I heard a very loud cheer.
I turned a deaf ear, because I knew that if I got too deep into it, it would snowball into something way worse.
I couldn’t help it.
I’m not deep into the world of “two-day Comiket”.

“Kamishiro… No, Shiori.” (Yuki)

“Yu, Yuki…?” (Shiori)

I called out to Kamishiro, who was looking at me cautiously.
I may have hurt her just by getting her involved with me.
Well, I broke my arm because of her, and I couldn’t participate in the tournament because of it.
That’s a fact.
But since I was already broken then, it didn’t hurt me.
I mean… It did hurt my body, though.
But what about Kamishiro herself? I’m sure she’s been tormented for a long time, and if I’ve hurt someone like that, she won’t just be able to ignore it.

“Are you going back on what you said?1” (Yuki)

“What? You used a female term…” (Shiori)

“It’s a gender-equal society.
Don’t worry about that, so I’ll ask you again.
Are you going back on what you said?” (Yuki)

“I don’t know what you are talking about, and I’m not lying.
I’ve decided I’m never going to lie to Yuki again!” (Shiori)

“Okay, then can you be my manager?” (Yuki)

“—What? Yeah, yeah!” (Shiori)

Once again, the classroom bustled with shouts.

Is there something wrong with this class?

[Yuri’s PoV]

“Hey, hey, Yuri.
Did you see it? Did you see it?” (Classmate)

“Yes, I know.
I wonder what’s going on all of a sudden.” (Classmate)

“You seem… oddly happy.” (Classmate)

“Do you think so? Then I suppose it must actually be true.” (Classmate)

“Your brother is amazing! You should bring him here.” (Classmate)

I heard that my brother is causing a stir in school.
They are talking about how he said to his classmates to be his girlfriend.
The timeline was going crazy.
When did he become such a selfish person? I’ll question him right away when I get home! As usual, there were reports of his every move and action, but what happened to him was a little, or rather a lot, different from the usual commotion.
If I had to guess, I’d say that for the first time, he’s not involuntarily being pulled in, he’s actually trying to do something on his own.

It reminds me of yesterday… My eyes might still be a little red, since I cried my eyes out.
In fact, I even fell asleep with my brother because I didn’t want to let him go.
Not just yesterday, but today, tomorrow, and in the future.
He has slept with my mother before that, so why couldn’t I do that too? I always wanted to be called “Onee-san”.
I wanted him to recognize me as his sister.
I wanted him to see me as his family, not just as a random stranger.

I might have been able to touch his heart a little bit.
Until now, there had only been bad things happening to him.
Maybe this is the first time something actually good happens.
If that’s the case, I definitely can’t let this opportunity go to waste.
I can’t let them hurt him again… I have to protect him! I must do it, and I will… This time.

[Yukito’s PoV]

“That’s why I ran away from my noisy class…” (Yuki)

“You’re even more famous than I am now, aren’t you?” (Soma)

It was Lunchtime, and I was eating a peanut-butter-and-chocolate-bread on the emergency stairs.
That was a bad choice.
It was too damn sweet, and no matter how much of a sweet tooth I have, the two breads had the same purpose.
My body now wanted to fight more than it wanted sugar… That’s a lie.
I don’t really want to fight…

“For that matter, Hestia-senpai, aren’t you always here?” (Yuki)

“Stop naming me like a certain someone that wears a really naughty white outfit!!” (Soma)

“… What are you talking about?” (Yuki)

“It’s nothing.
If you don’t know, forget it.” (Soma)

“Oh well, I have the blue string string.” (Yuki)

“So you do know about it! And why do you have it?!” (Soma)

“I knew this whole exchange would happen when I came up with the name.” (Yuki)

“Are you trying to make me wear that…?” (Soma)

“I mean… You don’t have the breasts.” (Yuki)

“Hey, there, underclassman.” (Soma)

“Pardon me, miss.
Pardon me!” (Yuki)

Like always, Hestia was eating lunch alone on the emergency stairs.
After all, she’s a loner regardless of what you say.
To the point of being confessed to.
I mean, I got confessed to, too, and I’m a loner… The senior was beautiful.
I’m starting to feel sorry for her, does she really not have any friends?

“Well, well, well.
Hestia, I’ll be your friend.” (Yuki)

“Why are you so acting so superior? Also, you think I’m a lonely little girl with no friends, right?” (Soma)

“You’re not?” (Yuki)

“No, I’m not! I have a lot of friends, even though I look like this!” (Soma)

“I don’t agree with the idea of peanut butter being sweet in a subtle way.
Damn you, America!” (Yuki)

“Listen okay? Why don’t you listen to me?” (Soma)

“Calm down, calm down2.” (Yuki)

“I’m not a horse! I’m not a horse!” (Soma)

“You’re a goddess.” (Yuki)

“I’m kind of tired of it, and I’m starting to get used to being called that…” (Soma)

For some reason, my senpai, Hestia, was getting frustrated.
I felt sorry for her, so I gave her the string.
That’s what friends are for!

“I’m not like you, I’m not a loner, capiche? … Are you listening to me?” (Soma)

“I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I’m not an actual loner.” (Yuki)

“Oh, really? You’re right, you’re not a loner… You’re a jerk!” (Soma)

“Well, either way, I’m still just a gloomy guy! Hahahaha!” (Yuki)

“Don’t say that with a straight face and then just laugh.
You’re scaring me.
But that’s good.” (Soma)

I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but if Hestia says so, then I’m sure it is.

“Yes, yes, you must listen to me.
I’m your almighty goddess, aren’t I?” (Soma)

“Oh, come on, you think you’re an actual goddess?” (Yuki)

“Don’t you dare take your words back! You said it yourself!” (Soma)

The faint pitter-patter of the rain reverberated gently throughout the school.
The only students who had the nerve to take their lunch outside were me and Hestia.
The emergency staircase was not a problem, and we never got wet, but it was a strangely comfortable space.
I wondered if school or home would ever be as comfortable as this neat, small place under these stairs.

I don’t know, maybe I’ve just been–

TLC:

1.
女に二言はない idiom, lit.
a woman won’t go back on his words.
means that once you say something, you will never take it back, and you will always keep what you have said.
Usually it use 男(a man) instead of 女 (a woman), that’s why Kamishiro ask why he use female term instead of male.

2.
A way to calm someone down, but more appropriate to be used on animals, for example, horses.

Editor:
Yan here.
Well, I’ve been seeing some amazing improvements with Yuki’s mental state lately, even if they are very small.
Been enjoying this casual read along with you, and LOVED the Danmachi reference with the staircase senpai.
Oh well, hope you had a great read, have a lovely day!

If you want to support us, please download our awesome cultivation game Taoist Immortal!

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