Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! - novelonlinefull.com
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I am not Kita.
At the rate I'm going, I don't think I'll be finishing off this volume by the end of the year. Also, there's likely to be a lot of awkwardly phrased sentences/grammar errors/spelling mistakes given the length of this chapter, so please point them out if you see them.
And this is what the Struck Out game looks like.
Chapter 8: Cultural Festival Day 1
With the princ.i.p.al broadcasting "Hooray! Cultural festival! It begins~!" in his usual light-hearted tone, the curtains on the cultural festival were raised.
As the cultural festival started, festivities occurred in the most literal sense.
Outside our cla.s.sroom, you could hear the boisterous voices of the people from the other cla.s.ses. It seems that they were fully enjoying the start of the cultural festival.
Although we would have liked to also take part in and enjoy the festivities, the reality was that right now, our cla.s.s couldn't afford to do so.
The timing was perfect for us: the cultural festival had just started, and things were about to get much livelier.
At such a time, it was going to be our cla.s.s' big moment - our cla.s.s program, our cla.s.s dance, was scheduled to occur.
Our cla.s.s was busy making our final preparations.
It was now 9:45. 15 minutes to go before the performance.
And with our performance just before us, we, cla.s.s 1-2, on the second floor - gathered in front of multi-purpose hall.
The boys were holding onto the props needed to set the stage. The girls, having already changed into their outfits, were waiting on standby.
Currently, a second-year cla.s.s was performing their cla.s.s play in the multi-purpose hall. The play had just reached its climax - both laughter and the voices of people calling out the names of the performing students could be heard frequently from the hall.
Although part of it was due to the turnout at the venue, it was quite obvious that even before we had gathered in front of the multi-purpose hall, our cla.s.s had grown increasingly nervous.
Given that the boys were only tasked with sound and lighting, there wasn't that sense of nervousness among us. For the girls, however, things could not be more different. Every single one of the girls had a serious expression on their faces.
Whilst making their final checks on the ch.o.r.eography, the girls, among other things, chatted and moved their bodies in an attempt to reduce their sense of nervousness. Even so, it was clear that they were still quite tense.
And with our cla.s.s like that, the door to the multi-purpose hall opened. From the hall came a soft voice.
The voice, which announced, "please get ready to begin making your preparations," was from a student who was a member of the cultural festival committee.
As a result of that announcement, the atmosphere grew even tenser.
"Alright, let's huddle!"
The one who gave that a command was Nibutani.
With Nibutani at the centre, the girls formed a circle around her. The boys then formed a circle around the girls.
"There's no need to be worried - we've all practiced quite a lot for this! We'll entertain the people who have come to watch us, and we'll enjoy ourself while we're at it. Let's make it so that everyone has a good time!"
After Nibutani spoke those words of encouragement, it appeared that everyone's nervousness dissipated. Everyone looked rather relieved.
As expected of our cla.s.s' leader, the Cla.s.s King.
She was able to say something so positive so frankly.
As a result of Nibutani's words, the hearts of everyone in the cla.s.s was moved: everybody nodded their heads in agreement and began encouraging each other with a soft "let's do our best".
"Boys, we're also counting on you too! Without you guys, there's no way that this show could be a success!"
Nibutani didn't forget to show concern for the boys as well. It was a level of attentiveness fitting of the t.i.tle Cla.s.s King.
In response, a loud and deep "YEAH!" came from the boys. I too also gave out a nod and let out a small "yeah". After everyone got fired up, Nibutani's voice could be heard once more - directing everyone to move to their respective posts. I too would need to start moving to the station for lighting.
But, before that -
In response to my voice, Rikka, who was right in front of me, turned around. By the way, when Nibutani told everyone to gather around, I had been able to successfully position myself behind Rikka.
I smiled gently at Rikka, who was visibly startled.
"Yuuta, since when?"
"Huh? I've been behind you for a quite a while now… Did you not notice?"
"Ah… For I to have… I guess might be a little nervous… I couldn't read Yuuta's presence… I'm unqualified to be your contractor…"
"Ahaha, that's not true. You were simply focused on what's coming up ahead, so it makes sense that you didn't notice me, right?"
The very instant I said that -
"Yes, yes, yes, Rikkchan! Right now, the dance is something that's even more important than Yuutkun!"
From the side, Kannagi Kazari - also known as the idol of our cla.s.s, Kazari-chan - hugged Rikka as she chimed in.
"I see - Yes, my lady."
I was astonished by how unexpected that phrase was.
That, that Rikka is being subservient to someone else!?
Although recently she had been getting closer and closer with Kazari-chan as they have been playing together a lot, since when did their relationship with each other get this intimate(?) …?
Previously, Kazari-chan stated that her declaration of being into yuri was a joke - I'm now beginning to think that she was actually being serious, which really worries me.
"Hehehe, right now, Rikka and I are in the middle of using that kind of setting when we play together. Sorry, Yuutkun!"
"Oh, no, it's fine, it's just…"
"Ahaha, is it alright with you that we're played together with settings like that before?"
"Eh? …Playing around like that is normal for you two…?"
What on earth are you two playing…
However, as expected of Kazari-chan - she got Rikka to address her as "lady".
Not that I had anything perverted in mind, but I'd like to ask her a bit about the trick that she used for future reference.
"Now then, I guess I'll go and head to the stage first. Don't be late, Rikkchan~."
After turning towards me and giving me a smirk, Kazari-chan separated herself from Rikka's body and headed towards the hall by herself first.
I guess that she was being considerate in her own way.
It seems that there was nothing but extremely attentive people in my cla.s.s.
I'm grateful for that consideration of hers.
"Um, Rikka. Do you best; I'll be cheering for you from the above!"
Although it wasn't said very smoothly, I did end up saying everything that I wanted to say properly.
I wanted to pa.s.s those words onto her before we started no matter what.
With this, a little bit of her unease should have been wiped away - this was the answer that my pondering came up with.
I'm glad - I'm not always able to say what I want to say properly, so when I do say something, I really wanted to be able to say it properly.
Rikka also returned a bashful smile as she responded to my awkward words.
"…Yeah, thanks Yuuta. Witness it - the dance of Devilish Truth Stare."
It seems that Rikka too was embarra.s.sed, as she said all that in a voice that was barely audible before immediately turning around and rushing straight into the hall.
Towards that back of hers, I cheered her on in my mind once more. I then also started to head to where I needed to be.
After using the rear entrance located opposite of the multi-purpose hall's stage to head up to the second floor, I arrived at my station: the place where the spotlight I was in charge of was located. Although there shouldn't be any issues given that I've confirmed how to use it during the dry runs, I should still double-check again where the switch was and how it worked just in case.
Yep, everything worked fine.
…However, it was really warm here.
Unlike when we did the dry runs, thanks to the sheer number of people and the heat from their excitement, the multi-purpose hall was unusually hot.
Although the air-conditioner had been turned on, given the number of people here it didn't seem like it was capable of fulfilling its role of cooling people.
Particularly since I was right next to a lighting device that continuously emitted heat, the heat was especially hard to endure.
To cope with the heat, I first rolled up the hem of my shirt. I then sat down and fanned myself with my hand as I waited for the performance to start.
As I looked down at where the audience was seating from the gaps in the railing, not only did I not see any gaps among the neatly lined folding chairs that were packed full of students, I also saw that there were quite a few people standing behind the seating area who were likely there to watch our performance.
I'm almost certain that somewhere in that crowd was Shichimiya, Amaniji-senpai, and k.u.min-senpai.
Everyone was probably waiting in antic.i.p.ation for our performance to start.
Still, although this venue didn't originally have a large seating capacity to begin with, it seemed that there were far too many people who come to watch our performance.
I suspect that the turnout for our show was equal to the turnout of a performance being held in the gymnasium, which had a large seating capacity. I felt a sense of victory from our turnout.
Since it was dark in the hall, I couldn't see the clock that was located near the stage very well. As such, I took my phone out from my pocket to check the time.
Only 10 minutes left before the performance.
It seemed that I too was getting quite nervous.
I could feel a type of sweat different from the kind that occurred as a result of feeling hot.
And then, right as I thought that -
"It's hot here, isn't it? Ehehe, we've come! Is next to you fine?"
I couldn't see very well due to it being so dark, but even without looking I knew who it was from that 'distinctiveness'.
It was obvious - it was Amaniji-senpai.
As Amaniji-senpai complained "hot hot hot", she rolled up the hem of her shirt a little irritatedly.
After that, and although I didn't expressively give her permission to do so, she sat down right next to me."
"Why, it's a nice seat, isn't it? A special seat."
"Umm, Amaniji-senpai, why are you here? Or more importantly: you're not involved with the performance, so how did you get up here…?"
"Heh heh, we said, "With lighting~!" and they let us in no issues. We too wanted to watch DevTru Rikkchan's cute dance from a box seat. Furthermore, Yuu-chan's here too!"
Well, and similar to what Amaniji-senpai said, since this place was the highest place that you could see the stage from, it was, in a sense, a box seat.
Expect for the heat, of course.
"As expected, you think we'll that be a nuisance, don't you? We won't disturb you, so please let us stay!"
"Err… normally the line's "How about if I get in the way I'll leave?", or something like that though…"
"Ahaha, you've made a big mistake if you think that we'd say such an ordinary line!"
"…Yeah, I'm already well aware. It's fine if you stay, it's not like you're hindering me or anything. Although I will be bothered if you start being a nuisance during the show."
"That is something we absolutely won't do. Even if - even if it is the normal thing to do," declared Amaniji-senpai firmly.
I'm guessing that she felt that way since she also was in a similar situation.
Her performance - she wanted to make the play a success. The same as us.
The side profile of her gazing intensely in the direction of the stage revealed just how strongly she felt about it.
"…Yuu-chan, we -"
Suddenly, Amaniji-senpai called out to with a somewhat fragile voice.
Before I could respond, Amaniji-senpai continued on.
"DevTru Rikkchan and Sofichan - we're quite thankful that we were able to perform our play together with them."
"What are you saying all of a sudden? We haven't even performed yet, much less have things come to a close."
"Ahaha, that is the case, isn't it? This performance too: good luck."
With her face directed towards me, Amaniji-senpai looked embarra.s.sed as she muttered out those words.
After she muttered those words out, Amaniji-senpai started to say something else, but her weak-sounding voice cut off the very instant it came out. It was like she was hesitating over what to say next.
Then, as if she had finished choosing her words, Amaniji-senpai spoke slowly.
"…We'd like for Yuu-chan to hear us out for a bit."
We'd like to talk a bit more about ourself. …But it's likely that we won't be limiting ourself to just that. Idle gossip - we hope you'll think of what we're about to say next as just that.
"Yeah, idle gossip. Ah, but if you didn't particularly want to hear us out, please feel free to just go ahead and say so.
"Yeah? We're glad, thank you.
"You know -
"About DevTru Rikkchan and Sofichan, they are those so called chuunibyous, aren't they?
"Ahaha, what? Yuu-chan already thinks that too?
"Heh heh, that's right. But, as expected, they really are chuunibyous, aren't they?
"Hmm. Umm, just the other day - we guess you could say that it was just good timing - we heard that word by chance and wondered what that word meant, and so we looked the word up. When we looked up the word, for some reason the two of them came to mind, and so we wanted to ask you if they were that.
"It was said on TV. A singer said it.
"DevTru Rikkchan and Sofichan: they're cla.s.sified as having the so-called evil eye type of chuunibyou right? We remember thinking "we see, we see". Chuunibyou - the person who came up with the term is amazing. The term was so precise and accurate that it shocked us.
"Do we think they've contracted it - yeah yeah, we got the impression that they were had contracted it.
"Ah, but it's not like we thought that the people like DevTru Rikka were weird or anything like that. Rather, we thought that it was good that they were like that.
"Ahaha, because it's cool, isn't it? Do we have that sort of unusual ability? We've never thought about creating a setting like that and the like, although we do think that something like that would be nice.
"Well, we guess everything that the current us has come up with is kind of like our setting.
"That's right, if we think about it carefully, the way we refer to ourself in the first person is also something you could say is our setting.
"So does that mean we too also have chuunibyou?
"Ahaha, is that so? Yay~!
"Yeah? We guess we're feeling a little happy. We feel special.
"Hmm, were we not meant to have such symptoms? We've only heard of the word for the first time recently after all.
"We wonder if we are the so-called subculture type?
"For ourself to be different from others - we wonder if that was exactly how we were feeling. We would do stuff like to produce abnormal, try show off our uniqueness, try to become special, pretend to be an outlaw, and misunderstand what was fashionable.
"Oh, you're asking about that? Asking about our casual clothes?
"No, we'll speak freely! Our casual clothes are… "Hideri-chan's casual clothes are no good at all," is what k.u.min, with a smile on her face, said about them!
"By now words like that make us very happy! Still, since she said, "I won't play with the causally clothed Hideri-chan," our casual clothes have been sealed away. And so that's why we're always in uniform. But well, look: don't you feel that the uniform is special?
"It's special if you think of it as clothes that can only be worn for three years.
"Right? But well, right now it's normal to be wearing it, so we still are troubled by it. Although that's why we remodelled it. Our uniform's different from everyone else's - good idea, right?
"It's fine that DevTru Rikkchan and Sofichan did it too. We like it. Although we didn't want to feel a sense of camaraderie over it or anything, to be frank we were happy that they had a similar idea.
"Although the only reason why we personally think that it's a wonderful thing is because we think they're cool.
"Though in our case, it was to 'produce abnormal'.
"Because - we wanted to be different from everyone else.
"Heh heh, that's right, that's right. We are persisting on and doing our best at an extremely strange thing.
"We don't think that it was a mistake, for us to have put in the effort to try be a special existence. Although people have recently been saying that everybody begins special, we don't think that's the case.
"Because it is impossible to begin as the 'only one'.
"Since everyone from the beginning - from when they are born, they are not special.
"It would be similar to saying that each and every person is individualistic - we don't think that that's the case at all. That is to say, it is a matter of course that everyone is not synonymous with individuality.
"You're only individualistic only when you display your individuality, right?
"If you don't use it, it's the same as not having it.
"That's why, for us to be such individualistic person - we wished to be a person different from everyone else.
"Ah, Yuu-chan! Since our blouse is see-though, just now you were staring at our rainbow-coloured bra, weren't you!
"Sorry, sorry, it was just a joke, a joke.
"Let's return back to the main subject now, okay? We might derail from the conversation like that from time to time, so we'd be happy if you'd tolerate us when we do that.
"That's how our conversations usually are? Ahaha, that's true!
"Now, to return back to the conversation, what we're about to say next is what we wanted Yuu-chan to hear - we'll be telling you about us. A first-person narrative - you're the first person to hear it, aren't you? Since something might come up to interrupt us, we'll refrain from telling you something so surprising like this.
"…That didn't come out very well. We take back what we said just now.
"Err, how far did we get up to?
"Right, right, that's what we wanted you to hear about.
"Last time, we told you the story about us wanting to be different from the people around us, didn't we?
"Yeah, that's right. The 'normal is no good' story.
"The story about us being treated as a 'heretic' by the people around us.
"Last time, we left a little something out - it wasn't that we had anyone in particular against collectivism.
"Well, but if we were pressed to say whether we were collectivistic, we guess would would say that we weren't.
"To begin with, from back when we were in middle school we were alone by ourself the entire time!
"No no, we'll say it emphatically! We weren't collectivistic at all!
"Hmm, as an elementary school student we were also largely by ourself quite often. Our family - it was a little tough.
"It's already happened, so don't worry about it, don't worry about it. It's something that happens quite frequently, probably.
"Yuu-chan too - affairs are no good, okay?
"Yeah, that's right. Relax, relax.
"If we were on the verge of doing the same thing as someone else would we still do it, you ask? We don't know about you, but as for us, we think that it's impossible to do the same thing as someone else if it was something special. At any rate, if we had no choice but to the same thing as someone else, it would be quite the fortuitous occurrence, wouldn't it?"
"That was, we guess, why we didn't have any friends.
"Did you not understand much of what we just said, Yuu-chan?
"Well, that's why, as we saw it as staying alive by killing your own individuality, we got frustrated with people who conformed with their surroundings and became 'normal'.
"Well, but that wasn't exactly 'normal', was it?
"We've said it quite a few times already, but there's no need for you to worry about the us back then.
"Well, we aren't really sensitive to things like that, right? That's how we ended up seldom starting a converation with others.
"k.u.min was a miracle. Well, it was also miraculous that we got to know Yuu-chan, right?
"After all, had we never also spoken to Yuu-chan back then none of this would be happening right now - right? That's why it was a miracle.
"About k.u.min? The story of us meeting is something we've remember quite well. Since for some reason, k.u.min came and greeted us! In spite of the fact that we were conspicuously dressed back then and just about never greeted anyone.
"Ahaha, d.a.m.n, you've got me! Yeah, there was also the fact that we thought that anyone who greeted someone that appeared hard to approach was a little specialish.
"Oh, but back to the main topic!
"About k.u.min, when we saw her full name, it was like a lightbulb went off in our head. See, us and k.u.min, we have quite peculiar surnames, right?
"And, although our name's 'dry weather' and 'rainbow' where contrary to each other, the surname of Tsuyuri, or rather 'rainy season', had the meaning of 'praying for rain', meaing our compatibility was perfect! Look, after successfully praying for rain it changes the sky of a dry day to have a rainbow hanging across the sky, doesn't it? We had compatible names! And like how our names were compatible, so was the way she begins a conversation with me, and so we got long quite well.
"Not only were our names compatible, but our compatibility in another aspect also matched.
"k.u.min's also a rather eccentric child, right? From our perspective, she wasn't just not normal, she was amazing. Whereas our eccentricness was cultivated, hers was completely natural.
"Also - you know, we were also simply happy that someone greeted us.
"Eh? Ah, the way we call her? We call her 'k.u.min' since k.u.min's a great name, isn't it? From the beginning, we thought that her name was great and not normal.
"Well, something like that happened, and so us and k.u.min became friends. If we were to say it like DevTru Rikkchan would, would it be "Discerning Eye of Distinctiveness activate! Compatibility is perfect!" or something like that?
"Ah, we see, resonance! What a great phrase, it's perfect!
"That too is chuunibyou? Hmm, there are all sorts of ways of expressing chuunibyou, isn't there?
"And so, well, that was how we had been living out our life, although at times we also did think about our situation.
"For instance, when the time comes for us to enter society - "how will we be treated?" are the sort of thoughts that come to mind.
"Although society demands individuality, for people to not just follow the crowd - it seems to reject those who have too much individuality as well. If we had to say which side we fell under, we would likely be on the side that gets rejected.
"It's a harsh place, isn't it? The 'present' us had too much individuality.
"However, we didn't think that that was bad: we even legitimately like that things were like that. We always wanted to be more 'special' than everyone else.
"Ahaha, we mean we are unmistakably us, aren't we! To hear you say something like that makes us happy.
"However, as for whether we had ever felt uneasy about it - yeah, we had.
"We thought to ourself, "Is this really okay?" and "Is it really fine for us to stay like this?" After all, we were in fact - a 'heretic'.
Like Jeanne d'Arc? Ahaha, maybe. We are a virgin after all.
"Oi, Yuu-chan, what are you making us say!"
"Well, we were the one who said it out loud. Oops.
"But isn't it Yuu-chan's fault that we said something weird? And for blowing away our anxiety, too.
"No, seriously, it's true.
"Our anxiety's vanished.
"Although it was a short period of time, our week of activities together - during that time, we watched DevTru Rikkchan and Sofichan.
"Those two - we've said it before previously, but those two were a bit unusual. They were able to do things that were not normal as if it were normal. They lived as they pleased, and yet they managed to properly maintain their own belief in who they were, all the while also having fun with everything.
"DevTru Rikkchan, the first time we met, when we approached her so abruptly, she followed our lead and adlibbed along with us. Despite being shy, she went along with us - she demonstrated for us a lot of her skills. In karaoke, making clothes, and gaming. In addition, she made a display of her flirting.
"Ahaha, it's true that that detail was irrelevant!
"We've been able to receive so much energy from Sofichan. That girl's amazing, isn't she: she's always spirited. In addition, that scarf. To be frank, we don't think that we could win against that scarf. After all, it's been so hot!
"Honestly, they are amazing. Maybe they think that we're normal… We experienced a bit of a crisis thinking that they potentially think of us as normal.
"Something like that isn't true? Ahaha, it's quite heartening to have Yuu-chan tell me that. Yuu-chan knows the two of them quite well after all.
"Well, and so that's why-
"That trying to be unique, trying to be different from everone else is not a mistake - that chuunibyou is not a bad thing - is what we think when we see two.
"And so that's why we feel grateful.
"Not only to those two, but also immensely towards Yuu-chan as well. Seriously, thank you.
"Ahaha, we're also grateful to them, and so naturally we'll be properly saying our thanks to those two as well!
"This, we wanted to say no matter what.
"For us to remain us - it's seriously thanks to the efforts of everyone that we're okay with remaining like this forever!
"Right, right! It's a declaration by us stating that we'll always be 'special' via 'heresy'!
"…But, honestly, it's a little strange how we've able to say just about anything to Yuu-chan.
"Even to our outrageous story, you properly listened to it. You're kind. Too kind.
"Ah, but as an uppercla.s.sman who's your senior by one year, we should be giving you advice, shouldn't we?
"Advice… although we guess you could also call it our concern.
"As a result of needing to study how to be different from other people, as well as having employed it a lot due to us being a loner, human observation has become one of our strong points. And Yuu-chan - Yuu-chan's a bit too kind.
"We probably shouldn't be the one saying this since we've taken advantage of Yuu-chan's kindness, but…
"Nevertheless, allow us to say it - the only person that should become accustomed to Yuu-chan's kindness is Yuu-chan's 'special person'.
"For someone like us, when we saw the three of you together, we understood. The kind of relationship that the three of likely had with each other. k.u.min - we wonder if she was aware of it?
"At one point, we too thought that Yuu-chan's kindness a strong point. But being kind is different from being affectionate.
"We also understand as we too wanted to be special to someone - that wanting to be special to someone also meant wanting to not just be someone normal to them.
"That's why, Yuu-chan's kindness, it's - it's too kind, and perhaps even poisonous.
"Ah, sorry, sorry! Don't get so down like that! Just think of it as a bunch of strange words from a strange person, or something like that!
"What part of you are we talking about? Let's see, guess it's like your 'lack of awareness'?
"Well, it's not like we're saying that a girl's heart will unravel for you because of it or anything, but - because Yuu-chan's too kind, we thought that it would be for the better for to be aware of your own kindness.
"It'll be fine it'll be fine! As long as Yuu-chan doesn't mistake 'being affectionate' with 'being kind' then there's no problem!
"Yep, since it's Yuu-chan, things will definitely be fine!
"Well then, let's continue the conversation as if we never had given such strange advice!
"Err, since it wasn't like you wanted normal advice, right?
"U-understood, there will be an adhérence to normal!
"No, it's something that we eventually will have to do after all… Just kidding!
"Well, but, since Yuu-chan truly is a kind person, we think that being a counsellor will suit you! Especially since you're also good at listening to stories too!
"The work of a counsellor does appear to be quite tough though.
"Eh, you're interested in our love life?
"We love girls!
"We are not just saying that to play up being abnormal!
"Well, but, if we were to fall in love with a boy - we would be 'normal'. That's what we think. And that's - that's a little scary.
"And so that's why we, without a doubt, will never fall in love with a boy.
"In that sense, we think that DevTru Rikkchan's truly amazing.
"In the end - guess that even with chuunibyou, she wanted to be in love?
"Eh, we're getting complimented? Yay~!
"Ahaha, Yuu-chan too: you're truly weird, aren't you? You're quite the peculiar person. However, you conceal that weird and distinct part of you, don't you? There's no need for you to hide that part of you though.
"It's a compliment. A wonderful compliment. To have been able to speak with Yuu-chan -we're glad that we met you, really. That's what we honestly think.
"Yep, that's why.
"Ah, it appears that the dance is about to start!
And with that, Amaniji-senpai's story - her first-person narrative came to a close.
Since it was so abrupt, I was a little bewildered when it ended - however, that I was able to hear from Amaniji-senpai once again about the reasons as to why she continues to be eccentric made me quite happy.
To continue being eccentric, to keep remaining special - or to borrow a little from the way Amaniji-senpai puts it, to continue having chuunibyou.
Chuunibyou is not something bad - was what she essentially was saying.
That view on chuunibyou, which recently had become my stance on the matter, was something that I had learnt from Rikka too, and as such I could relate quite well to the things that Amaniji-senpai was saying.
It made me think all over again that chuunibyou wasn't a bad thing to have.
While it was a little surprising to hear Amaniji-senpai declare that she had the subculture type of chuunibyou - it wasn't like that was an issue or anything.
After all, Amaniji-senpai will surely continue to act in a way that is expected of her by everyone.
A thing that, without a doubt, was a terribly difficult thing to do.
I wanted to keep thinking about Amaniji-senpai's story for a little while longer, but I also needed to concentrate at my task at hand.
After saying "Oh, there!", Amaniji-senpai, who was next to me, seemed to have hopped up from her seat. As if it were responding to her movements, the level of enthausism in the venue also instantly heated up: cheers reverberated through the venue.
I too also got up and directed my gaze to the still dark stage. From the silhouettes, I could tell that the starting group of dancers were already on stage.
Shortly, an announcement announcing the start of the dance was played.
"Thank you for your patience. Now then, this is cla.s.s 1-2's dance show. Everyone, please give them a warm welcome."
The applause given was so big that I thought it was never going to end.
I wonder if we were expecting that much of an applause - was what I happily thought.
I too began to make my preparations regarding the lighting at my own pace.
The key thing is to light the centre spot. Confirming the cue to start. Then, during the show, my job is to turn the light on and off. To move the light appropriately, create the atmosphere, and so on.
…Yep, all good.
I've reviewed what I had to do: all that's left is to wait for the music to start.
"The cultural festival has already started, and by tomorrow it will have come to a close," was what the person standing next to me, Amaniji-senpai, muttered.
As soon as she finished saying those words, a short 'boom" intro music, which was the cue to start, was played. Before long, an up-tempo track started to play.
The first and most important task, to turn on the light when the cue to start came, ended with no issues.
The light's destination was the starting group of dancers: centred around Nibutani and the dance club members, the group's eight members performed an original dance.
Not only was the dance a skilful, stylish, and enchanting dance-club-like dance, the outfits were also cool and uniform.
A black vest over a monochrome checkered shirt.
Paired with fashionable shorts, soft hats, and fastened neckties. What they wore was so stylish that you were also able to also enjoy this as a fashion show.
Well, the fact that the outfit was stylish was just my opinion though.
However, in regard to the dance, it wasn't just me - every member of the audience, regardless of gender, appeared mesmerised by the impeccable dance. Even the teachers appeared capitivated by it.
And in the centre position, dancing like mad with very flashy turns and jumps, was the person who will be the dance club's next president and was seemingly the club's ace, Nibutani.
It was a perfect start. Completely flawless.
I'm certain that Nibutani, who was also the show's organiser, was extremely delighted by this.
And once the music ends, the dancers of the first group will then need to exit the stage via the wings.
It is here that the lights are darkened once again. My second task.
Since up next are the members of the erotic group, the ambience is very important.
The music too had just changed to a seductive (?) melody.
With the lead of the group and our idol, Kazari-chan, positioned in the centre, the group gave an inviting glance to the audience as they started to dance.
The dance itself too was also loaded with s.e.x appeal: it was a coquettish dance.
Naturally, the costumes too, of course, were quite revealing! There was nothing covering the legs at all! Their navels were on full display!
I'm almost certain that the men watching was like me just then and were completely full of vigour.
After all, the very instant that the erotic group appeared on stage, I was able to hear many deep masculine voices cry out. It was so loud that you could tell that the boys were extremely delighted.
And the girls were happy that the dancers were enjoying themselves and having fun!
…Was what I thought to myself as I watched the dance from the second floor.
Again, the level of excitement in the venue became even higher as the second group's dance came to a close.
And then, with the stage being completely illuminated once again - it was what I've been waiting for, the third group!
The group that Rikka was a part of - the idol dance group.
So that anyone could enjoy it, a j-pop song that everyone knew played as the group started to dance.
Garnished with Rikka in the centre, the cute dance got the crowd going wild.
Naturally, the outfits were cute too. Contrary to what Rikka usually wears, they were bright, fancy outfits with no hint of blackness at all. If I had to compare the outfits with something, it would be the image of an angel.
Dressed in a Sweet Lolitish outfit that was an angel-like white adorned with light pink frills, the group fluttered across the stage lightly.
My spotlight was shining on Rikka quite brightly. The light from my spotlight was concentrated on that single point.
"Wow! DevTru Rikkchan's super cute~"
It seemed that Amaniji-senpai was watching Rikka as well. She was escatic.
…Naturally, I was too.
It was like I was seeing my own daughter raise her hand during cla.s.s obersvation day. "Do your best, do your best!" was what I cheered in my heart.
Once the music ended, everybody came back onstage again. The final dance was a dance that involved everyone.
That dance, the one that everyone practiced so hard for - their performance gave off the impression that they've practiced more than enough for it.
It was truly beautiful - everyone was completely in sync with each other as they danced.
The dance was drawing everyone present in. It was impossible to look away - everyone was bewitched.
And now with the music all finished, cla.s.s 1-2's program has safely come to a close.
- It was a great success.
It wasn't arrogant for me to say something like that, given how large the applause we received was.
Upon receiving that applause, the student council member in charge of the area walked towards Nibutani, who was standing at the centre of the stage, from the wings and handed over a mic so that Nibutani could give the audience one final message.
"Everyone, thank you so much for watching!"
Nibutani's face was full of sweat, yet she continued without wiping her sweat off.
"We too also had a lot of fun, being able to dance for you all!"
Seeking agreement, Nibutani turned to the rest of the girls of our cla.s.s.
However, even before she could fully turn her head around - one after the other, the girls voiced their agreement with Nibutani.
Seeing that response, even though she had not yet heard everyone's response, the fact that everyone was in agreement caused Nibutani to turn back around once again. She had a very satisified smile on her face.
"The cultural festival has only just begun! Everyone, make sure to enjoy the rest of the festival as well! That's all from us!"
Her final remarks served as a cue for everyone onstage to bow.
The venue was once again filled by a big applause.
"It's finally over. DevTru Rikkchan was super cute!"
"Right? Phew, I'm glad it finished without incident."
Since the lights were switched off, it was dark inside the venue once again.
We needed to leave this place fast, as the next group was probably making their preparations for their program.
"Amanij-senpai, since the next group's here, let's get down from here."
And so, the two of us made our way towards the exit in the dark.
Near the lights, there was a cord that acted as a railing. I wondered if Amaniji-senpai was okay, and so I my turned my head around and looked back. Amaniji-senpai's steps looked rather unsteady.
That's pretty worrying… If she fell from here, it would be quite the serious injury - call it me being meddlesome, but as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I couldn't help but offer her my hand.
"Amaniji-senpai, is your footing alright? Please be careful, alright? From here it's the stairs. Your hand - I'll hold it on our way down…"
"Hm? Ah, it's fine. We can see properly. There's no need for you to worry so much. Still, how gentlemanly of you, Yuu-chan."
"It would be quite the serious injury if you fell, right? And so, your hand…"
"…Sorry, we refuse to hold hands here since that's the normal to do, Yuu-chan! We've good. Thanks for the offer though."
…Hmm, it was probably since I worry about her all the time that I got worried, but I guess this time was just me being a little too worried.
Without taking my hand, Amaniji-senpai, after carefully checking each step, made her way down the stairs.
There wasn't anybody from my cla.s.s present as I exited the multi-purpose hall. I'm guessing that the girls had already made their way to the changing room.
Instead, what I found in front of the multi-purpose hall was a sea of people discussing their thoughts on our cla.s.s' dance.
It was mainly their opinions on Kazari-chan's group that people were talking about.
The first group was quite good too - said a female voice.
Although I didn't hear much about Rikka's group, since was hearing nothing but good reviews, it made me, even though I didn't dance, quite happy.
Then, as if to replace the previous crowd, the people who have come to watch the next program poured into the venue in droves.
"Well, that was fun!" said Amaniji-senpai, who was late in exiting the venue, as she stretched.
…To hear such unreserved praise from my uppercla.s.sman also made me happy, but in a different way from before.
Although the praise wasn't directed at me, hearing it still made me feel a little embarra.s.sed.
"Now then - now that we've had our fun with that, where to next?"
"Huh? You're leaving already?"
"Yep. We're off to search for something else that's interesting."
"Well, yeah. Since apparently, k.u.min has some stuff to do for her cla.s.s. To start off with, we'll be alone by ourself for now."
Hmm… Is there even anything I can do?
Still, as expected I couldn't help but say something.
"Um, if you'd like, we could go around the festival together? We'll be joined by Rikka, of course."
"Ahaha, no no, it's fine. Wouldn't it be better if it were just you and DevTru Rikkchan going around the festival together? We'd just be getting in the way of you two."
"Something like that wouldn't be the case at all though…"
"No no, and besides, we do feel like wandering around by ourself for a bit. After all. there are numerous other plays also being performed at the festival, and our play is in compet.i.tion with them all! It sort of feels like we're scouting out the enemy. Well then, if you do see us around, make sure to say hi, okay?"
As she said that, and without waiting for my response, Amaniji-senpai waved both of her hands at me as she walked into the crowd.
Somehow, I made her worry about me again.
Naturally, I was feeling quite bad about it.
Since I a.s.sumed that Rikka probably wouldn't have minded, I didn't think that Amaniji-senpai joining us would be an issue at all. Then again, it was also quite possible that Amaniji-senpai joining us wouldn't have gone over well with Rikka. If I were in Amaniji-senpai's position, I too would have definitely refused.
- …Or more precisely.
Perhaps this was that part of me that was 'lacking in awareness'.
"That being too kind can also be poisonous - was it?"
As I muttered that to myself, I took out my cellphone and opened the messaging screen.
I scrolled down to the 'other' line of my address book.
†User of the Devilish Truth Stare, Rikka Takanashi †
As I scrolled over her name, my hand stopped for a bit.
I once again recalled the things that Amaniji-senpai had said just a short while ago.
That I was unaware of how others perceived my kindness.
She pointed that part of me out to me, so naturally it was on my mind.
- That being too kind could also be poisonous.
The meaning of those words.
Judging by the way Amaniji-senpai talked about it, it seems that what she was saying had an element of truth to it.
I got the impression that she was seriously worried for me when she said all that.
I may not have understood what she was talking about yet.
But that's why.
More and more. I'll need to keep thinking about it.
Properly, as her contractor.
And - as her boyfriend.
As I vowed in my mind to continue contemplating about it, I sent a text.
To my girlfriend, a girl who still continues to be afflicted with chuunibyou - to Rikka.
Woohoo~! A cultural festival with Rikka~!
…Was how I was feeling. Although I was by myself, I was extremely excited (of course, I had not forgotten what I had just vowed to myself).
However, reality wasn't so kind.
Life didn't seem to go the way I wanted.
After I texted her, I met up with Rikka in cla.s.s 1-2's homeroom. However, that huge evil (at least in my eyes right now) known as Kazari-chan came along with her to thwart me. My plan to go around the cultural festival with Rikka collapsed.
In addition, Kazari-chan was holding hands with Rikka as if they were super close with each other.
"Eh heh heh, sorry, Yuutkun. Rikkchan's mine for today~. She promised me earlier to spend today with me~."
"Hmm… But since there was a promise, I guess it can't be helped…"
Apparently, it seemed like this time, she wasn't going to be considerate.
Then again, it's not like I made a promise with Rikka to go around together…
I was under the impression that we did have a promise given that the two of us were in resonance, or rather able to understand each other without words, but it seems that that was truly just wishful thinking on my part.
Knowing that it would have all gone as planned if I had made the promise with Rikka to go around with her made me a tad regretful.
"Yuuta, let's go around the cultural festival together tomorrow."
"Ahh, I'm being consoled by Rikka…"
In order to console me, Rikka stood on her toes in order to stroke my head.
Was I really feeling that miserable just now…?
It was quite the shock.
"Still, recently I've been worried that Kazari-chan is a lesbian, and is seriously aiming for Rikka…"
"Oh oh oh? Yuutkun, there are many grounds to that false accusation!"
"It's because of lines like that that I think there's truth behind that sentiment!"
The phrase is no grounds!
"Well, well, well, please rest a.s.sured! Not worry do, not worry do, not worry do. After all, it'll just be two girls playing around having a good time!"
"It seems that messing up all those "do not worry" wasn't just a big mistake on your part…"
"Yuuta, relax. My lady and I are simply tied together by an eternal connection."
Kazari-chan grinned as she heard Rikka say those words.
It seems that she found it very funny. It was as if she was saying 'hilarious!' or something in her heart.
Still, for it to be spreading… I wonder if Nibutani will lose her mind again if she learns of this…
"Right right right, it's since the two of us have an eternal connection with each other! Then, Yuutkun, I'll be borrowing Rikkchan now, okay? See you around!"
And with that, the two of them left the cla.s.sroom while holding each others' hands intimately.
I was left in the cla.s.sroom by myself, all alone.
Although the cla.s.srooms not being used for the cultural festival and were, for the time being, being treated as rest areas, since the cultural festival had only just begun, as well as the fact that it was still wasn't noon yet, there was no sign of anyone returning to the cla.s.sroom.
Currently, the cla.s.sroom was just a desolated place for people to leave their bags.
The fact that I was alone by myself during the cultural festival made me truly sad.
That's right, there's him. To distract me from this inexpressible sense of emotional turmoil, I pulled out my cellphone from my pocket and called my close friend, Isshiki.
Two seconds later.
"Oh, Togashi. What is it, I'm busy right now."
"Naturally, I'm keeping tabs on the various costumes that the girls have changed into."
…As expected of him. Or rather, how unwavering of him.
It was great that that aspect of him was so serious, but, well…
"I was wondering if you'd like to go around the cultural festival with me."
"Hmm? You're not going around with Takanashi-san?"
"She was stolen by Kazari-chan."
"Hmm. I see, that's disappointing to hear. "Sure!" is what I'd like to say, but… sorry. The truth is, I'm occupied right now.”
Isshiki lowered his voice. It seems that he was being occupied by something meaningful.
"Just now, I was undercover by myself at a place that could be called the staple of the cultural festival, a maid café, to investigate the costumes, but a m-maid started talking to me. A, a girl's talking to me!"
Since Isshiki suddenly lowered his voice, I thought that something had happened and was worried for him…
Well, but since this was Isshiki, something major may have happened. I could picture him acting all suspicious.
"I see, right. Got it, good luck with chatting with the maids!"
"I'm glad to hear that from you, Togashi! Thanks for supporting me! Anyway, if I do manage to get a polaroid with a maid, I'll make sure to show it to you!"
"Wow~, I'm looking forward to it~."
You're probably not going to be able to get one though.
"Anyway, I'd appreciate it if you'd give me a call again when I'm free."
"Sure, got it."
With my call in vain, I returned my cellphone back to my pocket.
Well, since my close friend was levelling up, it was my duty as a friend to support Isshiki and to give up on having him accompany me.
Now then, what now?
The cultural festival - to be alone during it was lonelier than I imagined. Or rather than lonelier, perhaps it would be better to say that it was harsher than I imagined.
A person that was fine with being by themselves - did not exist.
Back when I was in middle school, although I said stuff like, "Hmph, the festival miasma has. .h.i.t the humans," while having a defiant att.i.tude when the cultural festival hit, and would go play by myself… despite appearances, the me back then was still lonely…
Ah, if only someone could save me from my loneliness - the very instant I thought that, the cellphone that I had just placed in my pocket began to vibrate.
I once again took the cellphone from my pocket - it was a phone call.
…It was the real deal! A hero who would come to save you if you prayed for help in your heart!
"Oh, Hero? Right now, it's my shift, and so if you're free -"
"Coming coming! I'm on my way!"
Just as Shichimiya was saying the "fr" part of "free", I already answered back with, "Coming coming!"
Then, and without listening to the rest of what Shichimiya had to say, I told her, "I'm on my way!" and hung up. I then immediately started to dash. To h.e.l.l with it, if it meant being able to run a little on this day, I was even willing to disobey the instructions of the members of the disciplinary council.
The time it took for me to start dashing - was about 3 seconds.
Before I was even able to think about it, I began moving on reflex.
'Just how lonely was I feeling…' was what I thought as I ran, which made me a little sad, but I was okay with it.
I was fine with geting teary over ordinary happiness.
Scrambling through the crowd of people inside the school building, I made my way towards where Shichimiya's parfait stall was at a fast pace.
I'm glad that I checked where it was in advance. I arrived at the first floor in no time at all.
On the first floor, near the home economics room - located in the building next to the regular school building, where all the special cla.s.srooms were - there were many food-related programs set up next to each other in a line. And in this section was cla.s.s 1-3's program - a parfait shop.
Their program was even branded 'Parfait Shop' - the signboard had the words 'Parfait Shop' written on it.
It seemed that you could eat in the tent where the food was made. I could see several people here and there inside the tent who looked like customers.
Although I didn't get the impression that business was booming, thanks to the people inside the tent who looked extremely satifisied eating their parfait, many of the people pa.s.sing by stopped by the shop to buy a parfait before they moved on, eating their parfait as they walked.
And just like Shichimiya said, she was working there as a shop a.s.sistant.
There stood my hero, Shichimiya - to my surprise, her hair was not in her usual Twin Ring Style. Instead, her hair was in a ponytail.
I didn't have a fascination with ponytails or anything (of the two, I prefer twintails more), but I was mesmerised by how fresh that hairstyle looked on Shichimiya.
To borrow from the way Shichimiya phrases things as of late: her hair was "looking good, OK~☆".
Likewise, her outfit was not her usual Demon d.u.c.h.ess-like attire. It may have been since she was feeling hot, but she was wearing a casual t-shirt with a skirt. Combined with an ap.r.o.n, this costume of hers also felt fresh.
As my mind was occupied with thoughts like that, Shichimiya came up to me.
"Ah, Hero! Huh, you're alone?"
Looking happy to see me, Shichimiya, whose checks were somewhat red, waved her hand at me to greet me.
That gesture of hers was so cute that it made me gulp without thinking.
"O-oh. Yeah, I'm alone for now."
"She's been kidnapped by the hidden boss Kazari-chan."
"Nyahaha, Rikkchan's a girl who's kidnapped quite often, isn't she?"
It was a little awkward to hear Shichimiya say something like that.
Oh oops, I'm not implying that Shichimiya's a kidnapper or anything.
"Well, since it's just Hero, it'll be my treat! Now, now, what would you like?"
"There's no need, it's fine. I'll pay for myself."
"No, no, it's fine. I've made you come all this way, so it's only fair, right? ☆"
Saying that, Shichimiya forcefully pushed my back and directed me towards an empty seat.
I mean, if you're going to put it like that, I guess I'll take advantage of your kind offer then.
"Excuse me, two chocolate banana parfaits please!"
After telling that to the people in the kitchen making the parfaits, Shichimiya then sat down in the seat in front of me.
Wait, what? The seat in front of me?
"Is this okay? Don't you have your work as a shop a.s.sistant?
"Yeah, I've already informed the rest of the cla.s.s that I'll be taking a break once Hero arrived."
H-how moving. I'm touched. I'm so happy that she had arranged all this for me!
She's now a kindred spirit of mine! Who is this Isshiki person? My best friend's Shichimiya!
…Well, us being the best of friends was a long time ago. Even so, I haven't really been treating Shichimiya in a way that close friend should be treated.
"Shichimiya! If there's anything I'm able to do for you, just say it! No matter what the request is, I'll do it!"
"Eh? What's gotten into you, Hero!?"
"…Well, look, I'd feel quite bad if I just had you treat me without doing anything for you in return."
"By just treating you to something, Hero becomes my underling who'd do anything for me!? Don't, Hero - after all, you're able to collect money even from enemies who don't even have any money on them by refining them into money."
"I don't think I'd accept that sort of money, even if it was the reward money from triumphing over the last boss… Well, I mean, regardless, I'm still indebted to you for a variety of things. For instance, I still owe you for you agreeing for me to introduce you to Amaniji-senpai, right?"
"Hmm, but from my end, I was delighted that you thought to invite me to help out."
"Don't say something like that, please! I'll do anything to make it up to you!"
I was pleading to her with my hands put together. Somehow, I ended up in this strange position.
Shichimiya too seemed to have realised how strange this was and replied to me in a hurry.
"Huh!? Was I being mean to Hero or something!? Hmm, understood. I'll think about it. ☆"
"Yeah, just let me know whenever you think of something!"
"…That promise - although I wasn't aware of it at that time, it was to bring about a disaster -"
"Eh!? Wait, what!? The thing that you were planning on having me to do is going to be something like that!?"
"Nyahahaha, I'm joking, joking. I'll think of something for my request before long - ah, there's that. …Yeah, that would be perfect. My request is that you'd allow to ask you about something for a bit."
"To ask me something?"
"Yeah, to ask you something. Is there a problem?"
"No, but there wasn't a need for you to be so modest - feel free to ask me anything. I'll answer whatever question you have to the best of my ability."
In response to my words, Shichimiya muttered "Nyahaha, it feels wonderful to know that even secrets aren't off-limits. ☆" with a bashful reaction.
Although I didn't mean for it to go that far, it wasn't like I had anything to hide from Shichimiya. In fact, since Shichimiya is already knows pretty much everything about the past me, I had no intention of hiding anything from her at this late hour.
After saying that, Shichimiya paused for a brief moment, before continuing,
"During summer vacation - you went to the beach, didn't you? Why did you not invite me?"
As she said that, it may have just been my imagination, but Shichimiya's face - no, it wasn't just my imagination. With each breath, Shichimiya's cheeks got more and more puffed up until eventually, she had a completely sullen look on her face.
Her cheeks had swelled up like an angered pufferfish.
It was an expression that was rare for Shichimiya.
"…No, that… Wait, huh? How did you know about that?"
"Eh? Didn't you go with Mori-sama and her friends? Mori-sama carelessly let that fact slip from her mouth. And then after that, she kept avoiding the topic!"
By the way, about what Shichimiya was talking about.
No, we didn't actually go together to the beach as a group.
Rather, when Rikka and I went to the sea for a date during summer vacation, we happened to run into Nibutani and her group of friends.
Guess you could say that I was out of luck running across Nibutani and her friends, as, sure enough, I was toyed with by Nibutani. Although I intended for it to just be the two of us having fun on the beach, for some reason it ended up being a group session with Nibutani's group (Shinka・Chinatsu・Natsuno were known collectively as the Summer Trio), meaning that our outing was no longer a date.
Well, but since I still had a good time, it was still a good memory for me.
I wonder if Shichimiya had misunderstood what happened… That she thought she was the only one that wasn't invited.
Hmm… I was having trouble figuring out how to reply to her, since something like that wasn't the case at all. After a short while, and as I was still at a loss as to how I should be replying to her, Shichimiya, who was still pouting, opened her mouth,
"I-if everyone is going out to have fun, I would like to be invited to come along as well."
"Ah, yeah. Of course! Ah, and it's a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding. We only met up with Nibutani by chance - Rikka and I didn't plan to go to the beach together with her."
"Eh? Ah, is that so? So that's what it was… What a relief."
"Exactly, and you're definitely invited if we're going out to play with everyone."
"Really? Hmm, I'm definitely invited~. ☆
Shichimiya appeared happy as she laughed, "Nyahaha".
Phew… Somehow or other, it seems the misunderstand was resolved.
It seemed that as the two of us were chit-chatting, our parfaits were steadily being made (of course it was), as the new shop a.s.sistant - she was probably Shichimiya's replacement - carried over two parfaits to our table.
Two chocolate banana parfaits that gave the impression here and there of being sloppily plated.
Although this place was indeed just a stall at a cultural festival, contrary to expectations the parfait looked extremely tasty.
Since I didn't want the icecream at the top to melt, I began eating my parfait immediately.
"Yum, this is delicious! However, there's a bit of a strange flavour to it. That flavouring, what is it?"
"Heh heh, as expected of Hero. The poison didn't work -"
"There's poison in it!?"
"A lie, a lie, it's just a secret ingredient. As to what the ingredient is, that's a trade secret~."
Well, if Shichimiya really did poison it, the poison was doing its job, as the parfait was so delicious that I finished it all off.
It was the same for Shichimiya as well - she finished everything off as well.
"Regardless of what that secret ingredient was, the parfait itself was extremely delicious. Thanks for the meal."
"There's no need for thanks. By the way, Hero, what are you planning on doing after this?"
"Let's see… I guess for now, it would be to wander around the culture festival alone. How about you, Shichimiya?"
"I see. Since I'm on my break right now, after this it'll be back to work for me. If I it was the case that I was free, I would have joined Hero's party. Sorry!"
"I'm the one that should be feeling a little bad… Not only did you treat me out to something, you even spent your break time with me."
"No, I was glad that you came! Thanks for coming~. ☆ Now then, it's time for me to carry out the duties of the Magical Demon Duchness."
"Oh, good luck! If you become free again, please contact me. I'll come over to hang out."
"Nyahaha, roger. ☆"
As Shichimiya said that, she had a very happy cherubic smile on her face.
From that smile alone - that feeling of loneliness of knowing that I'll be by myself after this was blown away.
After having waved goodbye to Shichimiya, who was returning back to work, I too also left the place that we were sitting at.
Now then, where should I head to alone next?
Person. Person. Person. Person. Person. Person. Person.
The school building was overflowing with so many people, it got to the point where I thought that the school itself was a person.
Since I could see quite a few people wearing casual clothes, I'm a.s.suming that a lot of former students and family had come.
The school building too was completely different from usual - the cla.s.srooms were decorated with multicoloured ornaments. Many of the ornaments were so elaborately made that just walking pa.s.s and looking at them was enough to make you feel happy.
In the midst of such a disorderly and crowded place I was alone - walking slowly through the building while looking at the list of programs written in the pamphlet.
Where would be somewhere interesting to visit - as I thought that, I had a quick glance at the list in the pamphlet. Everything on the list seemed quite interesting to me: they were all things I wanted to visit. As I was, for the time being, a member of the Eccentric Drama Club, I wanted to see the other plays. Plays such as 'Katsudon Girl' and 'Meow VS Meow' caught my eye.
In addition, some of the more major attractions such as the maid café, the Manga Research Club's manga, and the Astronomy Club's planetarium also seemed like it would be quite enjoyable. I also wanted to conquer all the food stalls, and to enjoy myself with festival games such as the shooting gallery.
I would be doing it all alone, though.
d.a.m.n… As expected, as soon as I thought that, I felt a sense of emptiness.
Then again, I guess that it was inevitable that I'd feel like that.
And with thoughts like that in my mind, I continued on. For the time being, I headed to the closest place for me to warm myself up - a cla.s.sroom which had 'Baseball' cutely written on the sign.
For some reason, the interior of the cla.s.sroom was decorated very prettily. However, as I expected, the program here was Struck Out.
Struck Out - a game where there were targets with the numbers 1 to 9 written on them, and where the goal is to hit each of the targets in succession with a ball.
Naturally, I would not have come here if I did not have any confidence in myself.
Heh heh heh, why back when I was alone in middle school, I devoted myself to creating a miracle pitch!
…Not that I was a baseball boy or anything.
As I was moved to the Struck Out line that was the least crowded of the three - a voice called out to me.
"Ah! Yuu-chan! Did you come to visit me?"
Looking over to the source of the voice - it was k.u.min-senpai, who was dressed in a bright red uniform.
In addition, her headgear and her megaphone were also red - she had the complete set.
Since this was the first time that I've come across her without for initially being asleep, I was a little astonished.
"H-h.e.l.lo. No, it's just a coincidence that I'm here - I just came here to enjoy myself for a bit…"
"Is that so? I see, but even so I'm still happy. It sort of feels like fate, doesn't it?"
To have words like that said to them whilst being gazed at intensely would make any guy feel completely bewildered…
What destructive power this uppercla.s.sman of mine has…!
"Ah - err, it seems that senpai, uh, really like baseball, right?"
"Yeah, I love it! It's my dream to be displayed on the back screen of Mazda Stadium!"
"That sounds just like you but how would you even achieve something like that!?"
Ignoring my retort, k.u.min-senpai happily swung around the megaphone she had in her hand.
That non-athletic swing of hers was also quite cute.
""That's amazing, k.u.min - how did you do that?" If I was asked that, I would reply by saying it was just a swing that any regular fan would be able to do."
"If it was a swing that any regular fan could do, would it really get projected onto the back screen…?"
"Well, more importantly, I'd like to see Yuu-chan's pitch as soon as possible. Here, this is the ball. Since the ball is soft, it's okay to throw it with all your might."
As k.u.min-senpai said that, she deftly handed a ball over to me. It seemed that k.u.min-senpai was quite agile.
Since k.u.min-senpai was watching as well, I'll need to display a good performance.
In my mind, it was a live broadcast. My life… I'll burn it all!
Togashi Yuuta - His first pitch, he's winding up - and it's thrown!
The ball flew straight - and as luck would have it, it hit the target marked '5' (dead in the centre), which was approximately five metres away.
In my mind, I fist pumped!
"Ooh. Yuu-chan did it."
"No, that… I just got lucky, it wasn't intentional."
"You were lucky: I see, it was just the ball. Alright, next ball~."
…I wonder if it had become popular to say the word "just" with a smug face.
Before I could make a relevant retort again, a ball was once again handed over to me deftly.
Unfortunately, however, it seemed that my good luck was limited to only my first pitch.
Aside from my first pitch, the rest of my pitches pretty much all wildly missed the target. In my mind, I teared up! Where did all my self-confidence from before we go!
"Ah, that's too bad. With pitches like that, it looks like the Yuu-chan won't be experiencing the pro baseball chapter of his life."
"But never in my life have I considered something like going pro in baseball!?"
To begin with, I hadn't even imagined myself as a high school baseball player.
Just what sort of person did you think I am, k.u.min-senpai…
"But, you do still get a consolation prize. Here's your ‘blowy thing'."
"Huh? Did you want something else instead? There's also the slappy thing? And, there's also the bangy thing too."
"…The blowy thing is fine…"
Or rather, the way you described those prizes was way too literal.
I had no idea of what any of the prizes were at all.
Ah, but expect for that, I guess… it's an aside, but the official name for the blowy thing is party horn.
"With this, Yuu-chan's cultural festival will feel even more festive, yay!”
"Well, I guess this thing could be considered a festival-like prize. This blowy thing."
"Ahaha, it suits you quite well, Yuu-chan. By the way, it's been bothering me - are you by yourself, Yuu-chan?"
"Yeah, it seems that everyone else is a little busy with other things right now."
"I see; for the time being, I too am busy with being the person on duty here today. If I were free, I would have liked to go around the cultural festival with Hideri-chan and Yuu-chan."
"Ahaha, it makes me really glad that you feel that way."
"I'm sorry that I can't do anything more for you. Still, thanks for coming. Since n.o.body I knew had come, I was feeling a little lonely."
"In that case, I'll make sure to direct Amaniji-senpai and Rikka here if I come across them again."
"Really? Gee, thanks~. Well then, I'll be waiting then~."
As she said that, k.u.min-senpai had a smile that was even more cheerful than her usual bright smile.
From that smile alone - that feeling of loneliness of knowing that I'll be by myself after this was once again blown away.
After being sent off by k.u.min-senpai, I left the place.
Now, where to next?
"If I walked around properly for a bit, I would be able to join up with someone else before long." With that thought in mind, and with the tapioca juice that I brought from the Cooking Club's stall, I watched many plays and visited various food stalls to pa.s.s the time.No matter what play I watched, I found myself having a good time. All the plays I watched, in my eyes, were full of pa.s.sion and were very interesting.
In particular, I couldn't stop thinking about 'Katsudon Girl'. It was a masterpiece that moved my heart with things like the thoughts of the lead katsudon.
I hope tomorrow, our play could be just as moving.
The food at the stalls were nothing but delicious. Not only were there the parfaits from Shichimiya's place, but there was also the superb brownie from the Cooking Club that I brought just a while back, as well as the delicious takoyaki that I brought from one of the stalls. When I join up with Rikka, I'd like to come back to the stalls once again and try everything.
Which brings us to the present. I was currently at the very back of a crowd, listening to a band's live outdoor performance. It was very good.
Even thought I was by myself, my excitement was rising.
I still had yet to see someone I knew. What's this? Perhaps I'm one of those 'impossible sights'.
Since there were so many people, it may have been the case that we just pa.s.sed by and missed each other. If that really was the case, it'd be better to just use my cellphone to get in touch with someone - at that moment, when my unease started to overflow.
"Ah~, it's Rikkchan's boyfriend~."
"It's true, it is Rikkchan's boyfriend. And he's by himself."
"Wow, he really is by himself."
I didn't know if it was since I was their acquaintance, or if it was since they were the sort of people who abused those enjoying the cultural festival by themselves, but over flew their voices from behind.
Although there was no need to turn around, as it was quite obvious as to whom those voices belonged to, I still turned towards the direction of the voices.
The Summer Trio was standing behind me whilst eating delicious-looking crepes.
As the three of them looked at me: one had eyes full of disinterest, one had eyes full of bemus.e.m.e.nt, and one had eyes full of pity. All three of them looked at me differently - none of their gazes were particularly kind.
"Wh-what about it? I'm not particularly l-lonely or anything."
In response to my bluff, Miyoshi smiled as if she saw through it. It was a somewhat wicked smile.
"It's fine. You can tell the truth. After all, we played together during summer vacation, right? If you're lonely, you could join us?"
"Hey hey, don't tempt another person's boyfriend. More importantly, you're trying to get him to treat you to something just like he did the other day, aren't you? I think it's time you quit."
"Noo, it's not like thaaat."
"Darn it~, I wanted to get treated to something today as well~. Like the time we went to the sea, that was great~."
More important, back then, did this person think that I was just some thing for her to use to eat delicious things!? How scary - or rather, how unbelievable.
Although it seems that I avoided her trap this time, nevertheless I understood that she is a dangerous woman. From now on, I'll have to be careful. And I'll need to inform Isshiki of this too. Perhaps he's already been ensnared.
"I mean, Rikkchan's boyfriend belongs to Rikkchan, right?"
"No, well, I mean, that's right, but…"
"See. And so that's why, treat us?"
"How did you end up with that conclusion!?"
Where's the connection between the two!?
Her way with words was scary. As well as her devilish smile.
I even began saying, "But well, sure, fine."
"Tch, how disappointing. Still, if you'd like, you could join us? Shinka would be delighted, right?"
The voice came from the startled Nibutani.
It looked like her half-eaten crepe was about to spill out from her mouth as a result of her surprise, but it seemed that she barely managed to avoid that outcome.
"Eh, wwait a minute, Natsuno. What are you saying all of a sudden!?"
"Huh? It's since among all the boys, Shinka seems to have the most fun chatting with Rikkchan's boyfriend."
"Hah!? No way no way, that with Ge-geruzoni, hey!?"
How unusual. The sight of Nibutani acting all fl.u.s.tered.
Is this the sort of position Nibutani occupies among the three of them? This is of great interest to me.
"Oh~? So it's like that, Shinka~? I didn't notice it at all~."
"That's not it at all!! Geruzoni is… that, drop dead!"
"Recently, hasn't the way that you talk about me been really crude!?"
I don't think that the Nibutani of a few months ago would have said things like "drop dead" to me…
Rather, I would expect that her to say something that felt more s.a.d.i.s.tic.
Well, if it's true that Nibutani enjoyed talking with me, I know that it must be since she enjoys toying with me. I'll properly explain that to them.
"No, see, it doesn't have to be me in particular. I'm sure that as long as it's someone she can toy with, she'll be satisfied."
"Th-that's right! It just so happens that Geruzoni is the type of person that's easy to toy with."
Hmm, although Sasa looked convinced, it was obvious that Miyoshi was still spectical.
Sigh. Somehow or other, I knew what Nibutani wanted to say.
That our past as ex-chuunibyou patients was the only thing we had in common!
"Hmm, well, if Shinka says so, then I guess I'm fine with that explanation."
"Yes yes, that's how it is. Well then, let's go! The three of us will be still going around the cultural festival together, right?"
"Hmm~, I'm going to go get something to drink for a bit. See you around~, Rikkchan's boyfriend~," said Sasa in one feel swoop to finish the conversation, before disappearing into the middle of the bustling crowd.
Before chasing after Sasa, Miyoshi, for a moment, turned towards me,
"Hehe, well see you around, Rikkchan's boyfriend. From here on out, please take good care of Shinka,"
and said all that before trotting away to follow Sasa.
Leaving Nibutani - the laggard Nibutani-san, behind.
"Hah… Hey Geruzoni, you didn't take what happened just now seriously, did you?"
"Not at all… Rather, are you fine with not following them?"
"It's already settled that I'll be following them, no? But, well - if you truly were lonely by yourself, we could go around the cultural festival together?"
Said Nibutani with a haughty att.i.tude.
And as always, Nibutani had her usual - no, she was wearing a smile that was even more s.a.d.i.s.tic than usual.
From that smile alone - it made me feel that I could handle even being alone by myself from here on out.
Seeing her off, we waved, 'see you later', to each other. Nibutani then disappeared into the crowd.
As expected, I immediately became lonely, and so I sent Rikka the text "I'm lonely so let me join you!" and joined up with Rikka and Kazari-chan (thank goodness). After that, we then joined up with Shichimiya, before joining up with k.u.min-senpai and Amaniji-senpai a little while later. Together, we enjoyed the first day of the cultural festival to its fullest.
As for the performance tomorrow -
 An impossible to translate pun to relating 私語り (わたしがた; meaning first-person narrative) and 私語 (しご; which means talking when personal affairs when you don't have permission to talk, e.g. talking to someone about personal matters whilst someone else is delivering an important speech or talking about personal matters during cla.s.s). The original pun here is that since she is conflating 私語りwith 私語, Amaniji-senpai is saying that she should refrain from continuing with her story since she might end up distracting Yuuta from something important (i.e the dance). This would lead to the next line, where she retracts the pun since it didn't come out too well. Since there isn't an equivalent term in English for 私語, I've taken some liberties with the dialogue here instead.
 A pun involving both their names, 天虹旱 (Amaniji Hideri) and つゆり(Tsuyuri). As for Amaniji's name, she breaks it into 天 (sky) 虹 (rainbow) and 旱 (dry weather). As for k.u.min's name, she reads the first two syallables of Tsuyuri as 梅雨, meaning rainy season. Amaniji then links the rainy season with 'praying for rain', leading to her conclusion of hot day + rain = rainbow.
 Same untranslatable私語り/ 私語 pun as above.
 In the original line, Kazari is mixing the phrase 事実無根, which means groundless/unfounded, and 事実無限, which literally translated roughly means 'infinite truths'.
 Once again, Kazari is mixing up the phrase. Instead of saying 大丈夫 (which means don't worry), Kazari is saying 大夫丈 (which does not mean anything) three times in a row instead.
 A pun lost in translation. The kanji for truly, 真に, is p.r.o.nounced as makotoni, which plays on Isshiki Makoto's name.
 Another pun lost in translation, playing as the same concepts as the previous pun. まこと, an archaic term for "that's right (in the sense of recalling forgotten information)", is also p.r.o.nounced as makoto.
 A game in j.a.panese where targets are arranged on a board from 1-9, and a ball is thrown (or kicked) to kick the targets.
 An idiom related to baseball that is rather j.a.pan-specific. This term generally refers to a pitch that is literally impossible to do, such as a ball changing trajectories at sharp angles in the middle of being thrown, or a ball disappearing after being thrown. This term is also used as a metaphor for pitches that are near-impossible to return.
 Nichijou reference. 命を燃やせ!
 Untranslatable pun. In the sentence before, Yuuta says that he got lucky, 「…たまたまですよ、たまたま」. k.u.min in this line makes a pun by linking たま(tama) of たまたま to 球 (tama), which means ball.
 The preceding sentence, as well as this sentence, forms part of an untranslatable pun. The original lines, 「何コレ。もしかして俺が珍百景なのだろうか。」, is meant to reference the TV show『ナニコレ珍百景』: a show which that shows unusual/rare scenes such as an uncrossable bridge (何 in katakana is ナニ).